Calling West Hollywood "second to none" in its efforts to help the homeless, state Senate leader David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) announced Tuesday that the city will receive $216,000 in state bond money to help finish a 70-bed shelter for the homeless.
"I think West Hollywood has done as outstanding a job as any city in the state in caring for the homeless," Roberti said at a news conference. "The city is second to none in acting compassionate toward the homeless."
Roberti, whose district includes West Hollywood, chose it to announce that almost $2 million in emergency shelter grants will go to programs throughout Los Angeles County.
Mayor Abbe Land, who, with the rest of the West Hollywood City Council, was accused recently of callousness toward the homeless by celebrities and activists, appeared to savor Roberti's compliment.
"We do a lot in this city for the homeless--we spend almost $10 per capita on our programs. It's nice to know there are other people in the area" who recognize the city's contribution, Land said, after accepting an oversized facsimile check from Roberti.
The city was bombarded with criticism at the end of October after it voted to end support for the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition giveaway in Plummer Park. The City Council, which contributed $29,000 to the program this year and allowed use of kitchen facilities at the park, voted to evict the program after neighbors complained that those being fed were fouling the park and committing crimes in the area.
Celebrities such as actor Martin Sheen and television's Katey Sagal, of "Married With Children," came to the park in support of the program.
Despite complaints from angry neighbors, the City Council on Nov. 6 reinstated the food program for at least four months or until it finds a new location. In restoring the program, the city also agreed to spend up to $70,000 in additional patrols of the park by sheriff's deputies until the program moves.
The state grant announced by Roberti is specifically designated to help in the renovation of a warehouse on La Brea Avenue for a 24-hour homeless shelter and support facility. It is expected to cost more than $900,000. City officials recently identified the building as one of dozens in West Hollywood needing substantial work to reinforce them against earthquakes. Land said the state money would be used in part for such quake-proofing.
The West Hollywood shelter project will receive one of the largest individual grants from state bond money made available when voters last November passed a proposition, sponsored by Roberti, to provide money for emergency shelters. Almost $6 million from the bond issue will be distributed to programs statewide.