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State Regulators Delay Hawaiian Gardens Homeless Shelter

By Tammye McDuff

At the first meeting of the Hawaiian Gardens City Council of 2016, LA Missions approached the Council to discuss setting up a temporary homeless shelter given the coming El Nino storms. The Council then had a discussion about setting up the temporary homeless shelter inside what is currently being used as a day care center.

The day care is moving into a new facility, but because the center is regulated by the state, requiring inspections by both state officials and the fire department, the process could take up to 60 days, and the center must be operational before the state can do any inspections.

Meanwhile the Council must consider other vacant sites in the city.

Reynaldo Rodriguez, Mayor Pro Tem commented that the state works on their own time frame, “By the time the day care goes through all their inspections, El Nino will be over and the city will not need a temporary shelter.”

Rodriquez also objected to the shelter being located in the middle of the community noting many articles, one in San Pedro specifically where a tent city has been erected, indicating that local law enforcement was having trouble keeping the homeless in one place.  “We are not just talking about our local Hawaiian Gardens homeless citizens,” said Rodriquez, “they will be coming from all around. Because the school kids cross through that neighborhood, I am concerned about the safety of our students.”

New councilmember Myra Maravilla stated that many of the homeless people have mental illness or drug abuse issues.” I am very concerned that El Nino is going to be one of the worst we have ever seen.  I cannot sit at home knowing that the homeless within our city have no place to go during storms. It was my understanding that the new shelter would help people with their issues. We have already have some homeless that have actually died on the street. Not doing anything is not right.”

There has been discussion with neighboring cities combining efforts with LA Mission to have other temporary housing made available.

Councilman Hank Trimble did note that LA Mission said if they used their own financing, the shelter could accommodate up to 100 people. However if the City supplies financing, LA Mission would take the current count of 43 homeless citizens, help them detox and give them assistance with housing and job opportunities if it was requested. Trimble added, “The State is not going to hurry for us. We need to act on this now.”

It was decided for staff to have a definite decision and resolution to be presented and voted on by Council at the next meeting.

In other news, the Council considered and approved monetary requests from the Hawaiian Gardens Eagles Soccer Club for a donation to help with the expenses for uniforms and tournament costs, requests from the Pop Warner Football and Cheer for a donation for uniforms, equipment, and related expenses and the Hawaiian Gardens Little League for a donation for uniforms and equipment.

The Council gave $5,000 each to Little League and Soccer. Pop Warner had some “tax issues” that prevented a donation.