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Single-Room Housing for Skid Row Residents

September 16, 2002

Congratulations to Steve Lopez for bringing the community's attention to issues around the revitalization of the neighborhood in "A Skid Row Bistro Sounds Pretty Good, Despite Reservations" (Sept. 6). However, if the area around 4th and Main streets became the exclusive domain of the poor, it was because everyone else abandoned it. Now that we are all anxious to experience downtown again, this does not have to be at the expense of the folks who live there.

More than 3,000 single-room housing units in the area are begging for rehabilitation. The Skid Row Housing Trust has successfully rehabilitated 18 buildings, serving 1,100 people with decent housing. Moreover, we provide supportive services to help residents stay housed and improve their lives rather than returning to the jails, hospitals and streets.

Lopez reported that nonprofits own two-thirds of the skid row hotels. But nonprofits own just 30%, or 2,500, of the housing units. If and when the two-thirds ownership is achieved, I believe Pete's Cafe Bar will no longer open its doors on a "Calcutta adventure park." Instead, low-income people will be successfully included in the revitalized urban community. Communities in Los Angeles are not exactly lining up to build affordable housing for people living on skid row. City development dollars would be well spent on rehabilitation of the rich stock of single-room housing in the Main Street corridor.

Jim Bonar

Executive Director

Skid Row Housing Trust

Los Angeles

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