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Stuck in Limbo: LA's Homeless, Promised Apartments and Help for a New Life, Remain in Motels

While LA’s homeless wait for apartments and services, the motel rooms more than 1,200 unhoused residents were placed in by the city are costing taxpayers millions of dollars a month.

“I just want to get housed and get a new life rolling,” Thomas Shacht told the NBC4 I-Team. He and other unhoused people said they haven’t been offered permanent apartments or any services they were promised to build a life off the streets.

Shacht and his girlfriend, Kittie Plant, had been living in a tent at an encampment on 3rd Street in Venice until Jan. 10, when caseworkers from the nonprofit St. Joseph’s Center asked them to leave, promising to find them an apartment and get them critical services.

They were shuttled to the Los Angeles Inn motel in South LA, where they remain four months later, along with about 70 other homeless people from the 3rd Street encampment.

Thomas and Kittie say a caseworker has only showed them one apartment. They filled out the paperwork to move in, and never heard back.

“I want to be in an apartment and eventually find a job, that’s definitely a goal of mine,” Shacht said.

And that was the goal of LA Mayor Karen Bass when she announced her “Inside Safe” program on December 21, 2022.

Bass said the program, which could cost taxpayers $250 million in the next fiscal year, aimed to “bring people inside from tents and encampments for good.” 

The mayor said the Inside Safe program would also provide services for addiction and mental health issues that so many living on LA’s sidewalks suffer from.

The I-Team has followed the journey of numerous homeless people for the last four months, starting from the day they were asked to leave their encampments in January.

“They asked for my permission to throw away my tent, and they promised to find me permanent housing,” said Robert Lyons, who also lived at the 3rd Street encampment. 

He said he’s been shown two apartments over the last four months, then later was told by a caseworker that they weren’t available.

“They actually broke my heart because I had my hopes up,” Lyons said. “I want to have my own place so I can get a job and get back on my feet, which would be a blessing.”

The I-Team also discovered the mayor’s Inside Safe program has yet to offer critical addiction and mental health services to many of the homeless who say they need that help to stay off the streets.

“I suffer from manic depression, since my mother passed away in my arms seven years ago,” said Faith Stephens, who was moved from an encampment to the Sahara Motel earlier this year.

“No one has offered me mental health services since I left the streets,” Stephens told the I-Team.

The I-Team Monday asked Bass why it’s taking so long to get mental health and addiction services to those who were asked to leave the streets and are living in motels.

“The volume of people who need the services is so high that it outpaces the capacity of the community-based organizations to provide the services,” Mayor Bass told NBC4.

And the mayor acknowledged that most of the 1,200 homeless people moved into motels by the Inside Safe program have not yet been offered permanent housing, as promised.

“I think that is awful. We have to move people much quicker,” Bass said. 

Bass added, “It was certainly my hope that we would be moving people into permanent supportive housing much quicker.”

The mayor said she’s working to remove some of the bureaucratic hurdles that are slowing down the process of getting the homeless housing and services.

The mayor is now seeking to set aside $250 million dollars in the next city budget to keep the Inside Safe program running.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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