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Los Angeles homeless support center partners with Metro to help the unhoused

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Los Angeles city and county leaders celebrated a new pilot interim housing program Thursday for the homeless, in partnership with Metro as the unhoused frequent the system's services.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's Welcome Navigation Center in South L.A. is an around the clock center addressing physical and mental health, with a focus on permanent housing placement.

Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, CEO Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said the center has an emphasis on welcoming, where people can get better, and get "document ready" to move into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

"We're really excited about the partnership with Metro, because we are going to make sure that some of the folks that are on the trains in this area, who come to the end of the line, will be welcomed, night or day to be able to turn their lives around and be on the path to permanency," Kellum said.

Mayor Karen Bass said partnerships, specifically the city, county and Metro partnership, is another key solution to the crisis on the streets of Los Angeles.  

"It's a partnership also with Metro. Prior to the recent spike in violence on the line, the number one issue that we were dealing with was homelessness in public transit, both in the trains, in the stations and on the busses," Bass said.

"It's a way to provide services for people who are essentially using the line and the stations as housing, and this is a perfect example, it's an example of the partnership that we talked about in Metro Board meetings."

Sharon Gookin, the Deputy CEO of Metro, said since 2018, Metro has helped more than 4,700 people experiencing homelessness on the transit system find shelter and permanent housing.

"And now with LAHSA's commitment of 24/7 interim shelter beds, we can fill an important gap that will allow us to help those in need, even in the middle of the night as many of our busses and trains go out of service," Gookin said.

The welcome center can house 84 people at any given time. So far, the center has supported 200 people, with 12 people moving to permanent housing. Fifty people have transitioned into interim housing, according to welcome center staff.

City and county departments, along with service provider partners, offer physical and mental health care as well as other support, and transportation is provided for appointments. Staff offer employment assistance and document readiness to speed up permanent housing placement. 

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