LOS ANGELES (TBEN) – In a city where more than 40,000 inhabitants live on the streets, dozens and dozens of classic caravans are unused in the parking lots.
The trailers, gifts from the state to help house the homeless amid the COVID-19 pandemic, can be found locked in a yard next to Dodger Stadium and in many at the Los Angeles Zoo.
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“It’s hard to understand just letting these caravans sit there and get lost,” said Daniel Conway, Alliance for Human Rights adviser.
The Alliance sued the city and county last year in an attempt to force local leaders to resolve the crisis, leading a judge to rule that housing should be made available to all residents of the wharves by October of this year.
However, the trailers remain unoccupied.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking given the immediate need of tens of thousands of people in Los Angeles to see these free state resources unused,” Conway said.
Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom donated the trailers to cities across the state. The 1,300 trailers, purchased from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, cost California taxpayers $ 50 million.
Ten of these trailers were delivered to the St. Joseph Center in South Los Angeles.
“It’s temporary accommodation, but it’s absolutely home, yes,” said Dr Va Lecia Adams-Kellum, president and CEO of the center.
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The group uses trailers to move people off the street or in their cars to more permanent shelter.
“It really allows for privacy and a great way for families to get back on their feet,” Adams-Kellum said.
Adams-Kellum said his organization could use more.
And while firefighters have been seen towing some of the stocked trailers to be used for mobile vaccination sites and officials said other city departments are using them as well, they are mostly unoccupied.
And although the city spent more than $ 1.3 million in taxpayer dollars to repair and install 316 trailers for unhoused residents last year, the project was halted at the end of the year.
Last month, Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to spend $ 1 billion to tackle the city’s homeless crisis. A spokesperson for his office said the trailers were just too expensive to operate because they have to be hooked up to water and sewer lines and require constant maintenance.
According to the spokesperson, it is cheaper to accommodate people in hotels. But critics have said solving the city’s homelessness crisis is worth every dollar.
“It’s really hard to reconcile his announcement last week of a billion dollars in spending and his effort to do whatever it takes and at the same time he has had these trailers sitting there for months,” said Conway.
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According to the city, 125 of the trailers will be donated to Volunteers of America and other organizations. The mayor’s office said all trailers will be moved from the lots where they are currently stored, but will not be used to house the homeless.