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An Emergency Homeless Shelter Is Officially Coming To Venice

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After months of tension and raucous community meetings, an emergency homeless shelter is officially coming to the heart of Venice -- with a goal of opening in the spring.

The Los Angeles City Council greenlit the plan this week for a 154-bed bridge housing center, which will be built at a former Metro bus yard on Sunset Avenue between Main Street and Pacific Avenue. Because the construction site is in a coastal zone, the California Coastal Commission also had to sign off, which they did with a unanimous vote on Wednesday.

The project will be funded through Mayor Eric Garcetti's "A Bridge Home" initiative, which officials say will create short-term, safe and secure housing and services in place of rising homeless encampments. The temporary shelters will operate for up to three years, according to city officials.

"Throughout Los Angeles, people are demanding an end to the status quo of encampments in our neighborhoods," City Councilman Mike Bonin said in a statement Thursday. "They are insisting on housing and shelter, and on visible progress in getting people off the streets. We can't keep talking -- we need to be doing, and this vote gives us the green light to do temporary bridge housing in Venice."

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Bonin, who represents Venice and has been leading the charge to get the site approved, has faced backlash from a vocal group of residents, who say they fear for their safety and how the shelter could affect property values in the community.

An estimated 975 people are experiencing homelessness in the Venice area, according to the most recent homeless count by L.A. County, and more than 850 of those people are unsheltered.

MAP: Here's where emergency homeless shelters are being considered, built or opened in LA

Draft designs for the bridge housing center show a complex with separate housing, restrooms and showers for adults and youth, a central dining area, community garden, and a pet play area. The plan is to house up to 154 people -- 100 beds for adults and the rest for youth.

The next step will be working with contractors to schedule the start of construction, according to David Graham-Caso, Bonin's deputy chief of staff.

Graham-Caso said construction "will most likely start within a few weeks," which would put the project on track to open in the spring.

The Venice site will be the second emergency shelter opened to serve Bonin's district under the bridge housing initiative. The city, L.A. County and the Department of Veterans Affairs previously announced a plan to open a facility on the West L.A. VA campus in Brentwood, specifically for homeless veterans.

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