Politics

LA County could add more homeless shelter beds for El Niño

Pieces of artificial turf and rugs surround a tent in the Arroyo Seco riverbed along the 110 Freeway on Tuesday morning, May 5, 2015.
Pieces of artificial turf and rugs surround a tent in the Arroyo Seco riverbed along the 110 Freeway on Tuesday morning, May 5, 2015.
File photo by Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Listen to story

00:45
Download this story 0.0MB

Los Angeles County emergency managers told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday they plan a more assertive approach to getting river-dwelling homeless people out of the way of stormwater that could come with a rainy El Niño winter.

The board will review a proposal next week to add 261 shelter beds to the existing 600, said Phil Ansell, director of the county Department of Public Social Services. Most of the beds would be at existing shelters, but some would be at a National Guard armory in Glendale, he said.

The Sheriff's Department even plans to geocode the location of homeless encampments — using GPS coordinates to show where homeless are living to allow deputies to check those locations before and during storms.

Officials also said they will operate a jointly-run informational website during the storms where fire, Sheriff's, Emergency Management and Public Works and other county departments would post news and instructions, county spokesman David Sommers said.

The new website is supposed to function in English and seven other languages and will allow live chat with 211 operators in more than 80 languages.

But county supervisors responded with skepticism to the website, suggesting the county was being too insular. Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Sheila Kuehl asked what the county is doing to reach out to the people who run the 88 cities within the county. 

Supervisor Hilda Solis told the county emergency managers to include local charity and church groups in their search for community partners to help during storms.