Los Angeles

Homeless man now in city motel as he waits for Section 8 housing: ‘Indoors is always better’


LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Ellison Anderson, who goes by Red, has been homeless on the streets of Los Angeles off-and-on for 20 years.

“Well, it’s time for change,” she said. “Indoors is always better than outdoors.”

As he waits for permanent housing, Red told Eyewitness News that living in a temporary shelter at one of Mayor Karen Bass’s Inside Safe motels is a much cleaner, safer option than remaining at an encampment on 6th Street and Fairfax Avenue in Beverly Grove, which was cleared last week.

Forty-four people, including Red, were moved to the Hotel Silver Lake.

“I have no place,” he said. “I have a voucher. My case manager David Moore, he’s been a great help … my paperwork was submitted in June.” said Red.

Roughly 300 people have been housed temporarily as part of the Inside Safe program in its first two months.

READ ALSO | ‘I feel hope for myself:’ LA’s ‘Inside Safe’ program changes life of homeless man in Venice

Once an encampment is targeted, outreach workers spend days, sometimes weeks, making connections with those living at the encampment until temporary shelter is secured where the unhoused will live for a few months, under a year at most, until permanent housing becomes available.

Community organizer Bitta Sharma said the intentions of Inside Safe are good, but believes some of the unhoused people have been put through unnecessary stress moving to hotels far away from their encampments, some with poor conditions, although the city has been quick to address those complaints.

Sharma also raised questions about the services including mental health offered at the motels.

“Our elected officials don’t listen to unhoused people. They often lead with law enforcement, police, sanitation, chaos and stress. So, it doesn’t surprise me because we see that time and time again, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Sharma.

Some of the residents of the Beverly Grove neighborhood said they hope the encampment wasn’t simply cleared because of its proximity to LACMA and the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum with the Oscars slated to be held next month.

The city said that is not the case.

“You know, they’re coming back so it’s just temporary solutions so I hope we can find a way to have some permanent solutions,” said Gary Peskin, who has operated a business across the street from the former 6th Street and Fairfax Avenue encampment for 40 years.

He hopes the recent effort to house the homeless actually works, but he has seen numerous failed attempts.

“I’m glad these people are living in Silver Lake for a few months in a motel, temporarily, than here on the street,” said Peskin.

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