LAHSA launches pilot program in South LA, focus on getting homeless off public transit

With airy rooms, laundry facilities, outdoor patios and even a pet relief area, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Mayor Karen Bass showed off its Welcome Navigation Center in South Los Angeles to FOX 11 on Thursday.

The 24,000-square-foot facility represents what LAHSA officials said is a new model for interim housing, in that it provides 24/7 wrap-around services meant to get people ready and moving into some kind of permanent housing within 30 days.

The facility holds 80 beds, and the new pilot program has already signed up 203 people. Of those, 12 have found permanent housing, about 50 are still going through the process, and the rest have either left or moved on to other programs, according to LAHSA CEO Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum.

The center does not allow walk-ins. Everyone there is referred. Right now, there's special emphasis on people found living on Metro trains and buses, or in Metro stations, an issue FOX 11 has been profiling for years. Just last month, a Metro rider shared video appearing to show homeless people using a bus as their personal shelter.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Metro buses being called 'LA's biggest homeless shelter' by riders

"Even prior to the recent spike in violence on the line," said Bass, "the number one issue that we were dealing with was homelessness in the public transit system."

In a partnership with Metro, LAHSA has set aside some of the beds for people referred by Metro Ambassadors. 

"An ambassador will be on a train or at a station, see an unhoused person, offer them housing, and suggest that they come here," Bass explained. "Then from here, they are able to get all their documents ready in order to be eligible for housing." 

If the pilot program works, the next step would be to add more 24/7 buildings, but also 24/7 intervention.