As Tropical Storm Hilary approached Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) worked in close collaboration with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative to help people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in areas near dams and creeks move to safety in advance of Tropical Storm Hillary. Overall, the LA area’s rehousing system brought 374 individuals and 140 families inside to safety through emergency storm shelters and motel vouchers, including 85 people who reached safety from the Santa Fe Dam and other high-risk, flood-prone areas thanks to collaboration between LAHSA and the LA County Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Teams (HOST).
“LA’s rehousing community came together over the last few days to save the lives of hundreds of people in flood-prone areas from the severe rain that Tropical Storm Hilary brought to our region,” said Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, Chief Executive Officer of LAHSA. “I want to thank Mayor Karen Bass and the LA City Councilmembers as well as Chair Janice Hahn and the LA County Board of Supervisors for making the resources available to help so many people. I also want to give a special thank you to all of the outreach teams and first responders who worked overtime and visited dangerous areas to help our unsheltered neighbors move to safety.”
The rehousing system’s efforts began on Aug. 17 when LAHSA Homeless Engagement Teams (HET) teamed up with the LA Police Department (LAPD) and LA County Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Services Teams (HOST) to begin notifying people experiencing homelessness in high-risk flood areas about then-Hurricane Hilary and relocating them to safer locations. The areas of greatest concern included the San Gabriel River Watershed, Santa Fe Dam area, Sepulveda Basin, Los Angeles River, and Hansen Dam.
The outreach teams also began coordinated outreach and evacuation of people encamped within the flood control areas throughout the San Gabriel River Watershed, following the winter storm protocols they have used for the past 5+ years.
In addition to its outreach efforts, LAHSA partnered with the LA Mayor’s Office, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and nonprofits Hope of the Mission, First to Serve, HOPICS, Abundant Blessings, Urban Alchemy, and Mental Health America Los Angeles to utilize eight recreation and community centers as emergency shelters for the weekend.
LAHSA also worked with staff at LA County to open shelters in Pamela Park in Duarte and Jackie Robinson Park in the Antelope Valley.
LAHSA coordinated the delivery of cots, water, blankets, and towels to all shelter sites throughout the weekend and provided additional staff support as necessary to ensure people experiencing unsheltered homelessness had a safe place to stay.
In total, the rehousing system stood up 622 emergency beds at park and recreation locations for use during the storm, and 312 people utilized those beds.
On Aug. 20, LA County approved LAHSA’s request to activate the Augmented Winter Shelter Program in the Antelope Valley, San Gabriel Valley, West Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, and the South Bay/Harbor area offering hundreds of hotel rooms to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. These additional vouchers buttressed the motel vouchers offered through 2-1-1.
In all, 211 issued 140 motel vouchers to families and 62 motel vouchers to individuals.
As emergency shelter measures wind down, LAHSA and its partners are working to help people who came in to escape the storm remain inside. LAHSA will offer everyone in a temporary storm shelter a shelter bed in LAHSA’s interim housing system.