The Torrance Temporary Housing Village — a 40-unit temporary housing shelter located at the Civic Center — is nearly fully occupied, officials said Friday, July 22, with several residents already exploring their permanent housing options.
The town has welcomed 39 homeless people into the program since the village opened earlier this month and will “probably fill in the last few today”, said Shari Weaver, program director for Harbor Interfaith Services, during a visit media installation Friday. .
Harbor Interfaith Services, a San Pedro nonprofit with decades of experience helping homeless people in the South Bay, manages the Village of Torrance and its residents.
Weaver, two intake coordinators/case managers and five resident aides will work on a rotating basis to ensure that staff members are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist residents on their journey to a permanent accommodation.
“Next week,” Weaver said, “we will in all likelihood have our first permanent housing placement.”
Each of the current 39 residents lives in a temporary 64 square foot unit equipped with air conditioning, electricity and other basic necessities needed for daily living, such as laundry and toiletries. Residents also have access to meals, showers and toilets on site.
The village also provides residents with life and career skills training, emotional and physical health care, addiction treatment, and financial assistance through various county and local programs.
The person who will be placed in permanent housing next week, Weaver said, is a 24-year-old man who was sleeping in his car outside of work. He had previously been enrolled in a program for homeless youth, but needed extra help finding permanent housing. This man has not been identified or made available for interview.
“We identified three different apartments for him, and he picked one,” Weaver said, “so we’re just doing the paperwork to get the lease signed.”
Harbor Interfaith helped provide the 24-year-old with the initial money needed for security for his new apartment, Weaver said, and will help pay the rent for the next few months to ensure his financial security.
That funding comes from a variety of sources, Weaver said, including housing vouchers and government grants.
To allay any community concerns about public safety, the Civic Center site is fenced and will be guarded by two security guards 24/7. Residents of the village are required to abide by all safety rules, including a nighttime curfew, or face eviction.
So far, Weaver said, the Civic Center site and its residents have largely avoided any security concerns. A person, who had enrolled in the temporary housing program, was arrested by Torrance police on July 13, just over a week after the facility opened.
“He checked in and we never saw him again after admission,” Weaver said of this person. “He had already been gone for four or five days when it happened – it was just a very unfortunate situation.”
Like any other program, the temporary housing village will likely face challenges during its one-year probationary period, said Torrance Mayor George Chen. The village will cost more than $1.5 million a year to operate, according to deputy city manager Viet Hoang.
The probationary period will allow the City to determine the long-term feasibility of the installation. It will likely be submitted for consideration by the city council in nine to 10 months, Chen said.
“There is going to be a hiccup – everything we do in life has a potential hiccup,” Chen said of Fridat. “I anticipate, as with any other new project, that we will receive periodic progress reports to see (if there are) any adjustments we need to make to improve it.”
There were 332 people permanently homeless in Torrance in 2020, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s spot-on survey of that year. LAHSA did not conduct an investigation last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The results of this year’s count, which took place in February, are not yet available – although city officials have previously said the number is likely to rise.
Although the Civic Center Village, with only 40 units, cannot house the city’s entire homeless population at once, the program is designed to quickly move program participants into permanent housing, freeing up space for other people seeking help.
So far, the village beds have already cleared up some of the well-established homeless encampments across the city, Weaver said, including one in Columbia Park.
“We received endless concerns from the neighborhood around Columbia Park,” Chen said. “And we know we told them we had to wait for this temporary accommodation. Now the task is to move them to permanent housing.
About 23 of the current residents came to the shelter from city parks, Weaver said. Ten other residents previously lived in their vehicles, two camped at the Del Amo Fashion Center and two others lived near a set of train tracks.
“These are people we got to know through our outreach team,” Weaver said.
Jonathan McCutcheon, a 31-year-old Torrance native, is one such person. He moved into the temporary housing village the same day it opened on July 5.
He was living in his car in Victor Park when the city’s homeless outreach coordinator approached him a few months ago, McCutcheon said, offering a personal hygiene kit.
“We talked for a while about what was going on with my mental state and everything,” McCutcheon said in an interview Friday. “And then she mentioned this place was going to open – and I realized I just had to live in my car for two more weeks.”
McCutcheon said he had been homeless on and off for about eight years.
He was raised by his grandparents. But when their rent skyrocketed in 2013, he said, his grandparents moved into a rent-controlled seniors’ community — leaving McCutcheon with nowhere to stay.
He then bounced around, from California to Missouri and back, but never had a stable long-term living situation, McCutcheon said.
His living situation remained unstable until the beginning of this year.
“My brother was kind enough to pick me up, dust me off and put me in a car,” McCutcheon said. “And he was like, ‘All right, man, time to get your stuff together.'”
And McCutcheon did.
He worked while living in his car – and tried to save enough money to find his own place to live.
“I’m grateful for my job – but at the same time, I’m working five hours a day for $15 and it’s nowhere near enough,” he said. “I realized that I was mainly working to fill my tank.
“It really weighs on you, mentally,” McCutcheon said. “Having to drive your car to the bathroom, drive your car to shower or drive your car to do everything, especially with the price of gas.”
So when the temporary housing village opened, McCutcheon said, he jumped at the chance to get help.
“I had an idea of all the amenities that were going to be here,” he said, “but having an idea and experiencing it are two completely different things.”
When McCutcheon arrived, he said, village staff offered to wash his clothes first.
“I’m not used to people being so nice,” he said.
Within weeks — with regular access to meals, showers and bathrooms — his mental health has steadily improved, McCutcheon said, and for the first time in a long time, he can see the end of his life experience. roaming.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity,” McCutcheon said. “I don’t plan on staying here forever, because obviously it’s not a forever thing. I want to be independent. »