The Los Angeles City Council approved a motion on Aug. 31 introduced by Councilwoman Nithya Raman, 4th District, that will increase property storage options for unhoused individuals.
Raman said one of the most visible manifestations of Los Angeles’s homelessness crisis is personal belongings stored in public areas. Improperly stored items increase the risk of fire or collapse, and numerous possessions in the public right-of-way can inhibit accessibility. Currently, people experiencing homelessness have few options other than storing their possessions on the streets, the councilwoman said.
As outlined in the motion, a city-wide network of small-scale shipping container storage facilities will be created on city-owned parking lots, vacant parcels and other properties not suitable for permanent or interim housing. The motion also instructs the city administrative officer to report back within 60 days with a plan for the funding and location of an initial five facilities in locations throughout the city where there is an unmet need for storage among unhoused residents.
“Existing city-owned storage facilities for people experiencing homelessness have proven to be highly successful, consistently operating at nearly full capacity,” Raman said. “My office has also seen first-hand how instrumental providing storage to people experiencing homelessness can be in sustainably transitioning them into housing.”
A lack of storage options can create other major difficulties for persons experiencing homelessness, Raman added. The inability to store or transport a large quantity of possessions can make it incredibly difficult to leave an encampment, even temporarily, creating obstacles to seeking work and meeting with case managers, she added. Currently-operating shelter facilities often limit belongings to two bags.
“Our most vulnerable neighbors have a right to protect their possessions and to not live with constant fear of their belongings being lost or stolen,” said John Maceri, CEO of The People Concern, one of L.A.’s largest housing and social services agencies. “Expanding secure storage options for people experiencing homelessness removes barriers to seeking shelter, accessing services and finding permanent housing, and improves the quality of life for all in our communities.”
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