HomeAsian AmericansHundreds Protest Homeless Shelter Planned for L.A. Koreatown
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Hundreds Protest Homeless Shelter Planned for L.A. Koreatown

Located at 687 S. Vermont Ave, this public parking lot in Los Angeles’ K-town could transform into a temporary shelter for the homeless. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

City officials in Los Angeles plan to build a temporary homeless shelter on the edge of Koreatown. Hundreds of K-town residents protested those plans in traffic-stopping numbers last Friday.

During what the LA Times described as a “raucous” City Hall meeting, the proposal mustered enough committee support last week to await vote by full council. Because the planned site, an empty parking lot on Vermont Avenue, is already city-owned, there will be no public hearing.

At the meeting, city councilman Mike Bonin who represents coastal neighborhoods like Venice, said the new shelters were urgent for the city’s growing homeless population,”nothing short than a matter of life and death.” Last year, Los Angeles saw a 20 percent spike in the number of unsheltered residents to over 34,000, according to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.

Three days later, neighborhood dissenters took to the streets: “No hearing, no shelter!”

“That’s not fair,” Koreatown resident Joe Pak said to LA Weekly. “Also, if the parking lot is city-owned, who owns the city? The residents.”

Grace Yoo, an organizer with the Environmental Justice Collaborative told CBS Local: “If it makes sense we will support it. We’re not against the homeless. We are against [L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson] trying to ram things down our throat without listening to us.”

Others who came to protest were less willing to even consider the shelter’s location.

“Wilshire and Vermont is one of the most expensive pieces of land in Los Angeles,” demonstrator and Koreatown resident Myki Lee said. “Not only that, but there are more suitable pieces of land where we can spend $1.3 million to better build bigger facilities.”

There were also floating concerns about the parking lot’s proximity to businesses and schools, and the shelter’s possible impact.

Koreatown resident Min Sa said he wants to help the homeless, just “not this way.” “They’re not asking the community, and the homeless people sell drugs. We’re not happy,” he said.

A petition circulating against the Koreatown shelter has generated over 9,000 signatures. And Friday’s march was the latest in a string of at least three similar protests, according to CBS Local.

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