On Thursday, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, through its project known as Healthy Housing Foundation, unveiled another urgent response to Los Angeles’ worsening homeless emergency. Providing shelter quickly and inexpensively, Healthy Housing Foundation by AHF will turn a 27-room motel in Hollywood into a transitional home for homeless men, women, and families.
“I can’t think of anything more urgent,” said AHF president and co-founder Michael Weinstein at a press conference, “than getting a mother and child off the street.”
In 1987, AHF was founded as a housing provider for terminally AIDS patients in L.A. HIV drug treatment did not exist, people living with HIV/AIDS were treated as lepers at hospitals, they were abandoned by family, and they were evicted by landlords. It was an emergency that demanded an immediate response. AHF opened the 25-bed Chris Brownlie Hospice at the Barlow Respiratory Hospital, and subsequently operated two additional hospices.
Thirty years later, as L.A.’s affordable-housing and homeless emergencies impact AHF’s patients, the organization is again taking swift action to address a dire situation.
Last year, Healthy Housing Foundation by AHF acquired the Madison Hotel, a 220-room single-occupancy building in Downtown L.A., to provide housing for homeless men and women. The organization is supplying additional shelter at the former motel in Hollywood, and will deliver more housing for the underserved in the near future.
Similar to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and early 1990s, when hundreds of thousands were dying and government was slow to respond, AHF believes L.A. politicians must act more rapidly to house men, women, and families living on the street.
“This is a call to action for the city,” said Weinstein, referring to AHF’s retooled motel. “We hope policymakers are watching, and adopt these kinds of models.”
In 2015, the L.A. City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a homeless “state of emergency.” A year later, in November 2016, L.A. voters approved Measure HHH to build more affordable and homeless housing. A year after that, City Hall politicians were still dragging their feet to get projects built, they were still not using innovative methods to speedily create housing, and they continued to push short-sighted, developer-friendly land-use policies that cause gentrification and displacement and exacerbate L.A.’s homeless disaster.
In the meantime, L.A.’s homeless population spiked 20 percent from 2016 to 2017, with around 34,000 homeless men, women, and children.
“City Hall needs to address the homeless emergency as the crisis it is,” said Damien Goodmon, director of AHF’s Housing is a Human Right project, at the press conference. “It took only a few months for AHF to take action.”