Homeless Shelter Opens in Watts in Time for Christmas After Years of Community Outreach

Residents of a new shelter in Watts receive plates full of pasta, pizza and salad during a Christmas lunch held on Dec. 23, 2019. The shelter cost $5.4 million to build. (Credit: Gabriella Angotti-Jones/Los Angeles Times)

Residents of a new shelter in Watts receive plates full of pasta, pizza and salad during a Christmas lunch held on Dec. 23, 2019. The shelter cost $5.4 million to build. (Credit: Gabriella Angotti-Jones/Los Angeles Times)

Councilman Joe Buscaino welcomed 100 homeless people to an early Christmas luncheon at the city’s newest homeless shelter in Watts with great cheer, but also great frustration.

The $5.4-million facility, which brings the total number of shelter beds available under the mayor’s A Bridge Home program to more than 500, took 17 months to open. And that was after years of outreach to residents by his office and homeless advocates to quash dissent, he said.

“We had 150 community meetings to convince people this is a good idea,” Buscaino said on Monday, gesturing toward the tables of people on the patio, mercifully sheltered from the rain, and laughing and chatting over plates of pasta and pizza. “This works… but it’s taking too long.”

The 100-bed shelter opened in late November in a reinforced tent structure on Imperial Highway in Watts and it filled quickly.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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