LOS ANGELES — It’s a new, five-building campus on LA County property near Normandie Avenue and Imperial Highway in South Los Angeles. For Reba Stevens, it’s also a breath of fresh air.
“There is absolutely nothing like being ready and willing and knocking and the door opens,” said Stevens said, who spent 21 years living on the streets of LA and is a survivor of domestic abuse. “The many days that I spent in emergency rooms just to be warm or just to feel safe. This is a great day."
It’s why District 2 Supervisor and LA County Board Chair Holly Mitchell joined with two community partners to unveil Safe Landing, which provides 136 interim housing beds, social and behavioral health services as well as 24/7 access to clinical care. The West Athens neighborhood, where the site is located, is also one area hardest hit by homelessness LA County.
“Unhoused residents get assessed and supported immediately and connected to the services and housing options to meet their specific and unique needs,” Mitchell said.
Another 36-beds are set aside in a triage and detox area for those under the influence. The center also provides help with budgeting, applying for public benefits and securing permanent housing.
“[It’s] a one-of-its-kind model that is truly trauma-informed and one that doesn’t look like anything we have anywhere else in the entire country,” Mitchell said.
County leaders say anyone experiencing homelessness can walk in any day of the week — anytime, day or night. Outreach teams and law enforcement can bring people here instead of jail or the local emergency department.
“When they are ready to come off the streets, they’re ready right then and we so often don’t some place for them to go right then when they’re ready,” said Christina Ghaly, the director of LA County Department of Health Services.
Safe Landing will accept men, women, couples and even their pets, removing some of the common barriers that keep people living on the streets.
“I think this has to be the model because I think what we have built for our unhoused family, friends and neighbors for far too long doesn’t meet their true need,” Mitchell said.
Stevens is now a community activist and an LA County mental health commissioner. She was consulted on the project before the county broke ground three years ago under the leadership of former County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“It feels like community and I’m just, I’m really stoked,” Stevens said.
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