Boyle Heights neighbors protest proposal to turn Sears Building into homeless housing

Neighbors now turned protesters are continuing their fight to stop what they claim is a power and property grab all at the expense of the homeless.

"We can't have developers trying to be doctors trying to be rehab specialists. They're developers, and they're using the public purse to get rich at the expense of the homeless."

It's here in this Boyle Heights neighborhood where a developer is eyeing the historic Sears Tower, all dark and vacant now, as a possible homeless housing project. 

The development would turn the building and the 26 acres it sits on into a huge center for the homeless. 

"You cannot cure the homeless problem even if you provide 5,000 beds here… it's just inappropriate… because if you take a look at this… the shelter, you can't control people in a shelter so if they don't want to follow the rules then where would they go? Out into our street," one neighbor said.

The protest is growing with more urgency as the opposition to the project has been led by the embattled Councilman Kevin de León. But because de León is right in the middle of the exploding LA City Council scandal, many here have lost their faith in his support. 

Neighbors are the first to admit LA is facing a huge homeless crisis that's growing even more desperate by the day, but still they reject the developer's plans to turn the Sears Tower into what is called a "life rebuilding center" housing some 2,500 homeless, along with mental health and other services.

As many at the protest stressed, the community has needs too that have been overlooked for far too long. 

"We need a commercial property that has a theater, proper grocery store… we don't have these types of amenities in Boyle Heights," one neighbor said.

The developer has been working with the city, going back and forth for a while now redrawing up their plans, trying to come up with some type of project that's acceptable to all sides.