Hollywood Local News West Hollywood

Hollywood’s first bridge housing shelter marks anniversary

HOLLYWOOD — When City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell identified a city parking lot on Schrader Boulevard as a potential site for a homeless shelter — or “bridge housing” — it was to help people like Hollywood’s own Alina Carmona. 

A native of Miami, Carmona was a relatively new Angeleno before she fell into homelessness. After more than a year on the streets, she linked up with the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood, which offered her a lifeline to move into the new 72-bed bridge housing facility on Schrader.

“When we announced plans for bridge housing in Hollywood, it was at a time of great unrest and skepticism throughout the city regarding similar proposals,” O’Farrell said. “But, from the very beginning, we felt we had found the right location for this type of facility — and we believed there would be support and partnership from the surrounding community.”

Since opening in spring 2019, the bridge housing facility on Schrader Boulevard is celebrating one year of service. The site, part of the city’s A Bridge Home shelter program, was spearheaded by O’Farrell and Mayor Eric Garcetti to provide interim housing and supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, and in just one year, it has made significant progress toward lifting people out of poverty. 

Known to most community members simply as “Schrader,” the facility provides transportation, connections to physical and mental health assistance and, ultimately, links to permanent housing. 

“I was one of the first residents, and I’m so glad this facility helped me get back on my feet,” said Carmona, one of 15 people thus far from the facility who have been connected to permanent housing.

“It is moving to see a success story like Alina,” O’Farrell said. “Her experience and time at Schrader can not only inspire other people experiencing homelessness, who are similarly working to get back on their feet; it can also inspire all of us as Angelenos, to continue to provide support to those who struggle in our city.”

The Schrader facility is operated by PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), a regional supportive housing leader, in partnership with the Center in Hollywood, an access center with headquarters just steps away from the bridge housing facility. 

“During the nine months I was a resident at Schrader, I spent a great deal of time at The Center where I participated in meditation classes, recovery group sessions and coffee hours,” Carmona said.

As part of the partnership between PATH and The Center, Schrader regularly offers programs including  art classes, yoga, anger management classes, recovery-oriented group work, community gatherings to assist in acclimation to community life, job readiness training, mobile medical clinics and pet support.

Last October, Carmona received the wonderful news that has been the goal of all who have lived at or helped to operate Schrader: she was finally getting a permanent home. Carmona worked with a caseworker from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to start the housing process and received a Section 8 voucher for a place of her own.

“This was my ultimate goal, and I’m incredibly fortunate that Schrader was able to make this possible for me,” Carmona said. “I now live in my own place near Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood. I’m so happy that I still get to live near the shelter that helped get me back on my feet.”

“This is what it’s all about,” O’Farrell said. “Here you have a young woman who was struggling, but was fortunate to be connected to resources in her community, and as a result, she gets to stay in her community. We are so proud of Alina and our partners who helped her in her journey.”

Even though Carmona now leads an independent life, she is paying it forward, volunteering twice a week at The Center as an ambassador. 

“I organize the coffee hours, act as a greeter when people arrive, and help to beautify the property,” Carmona said. “I also get to attend outstanding events that serve as a reminder of the great work being done for people experiencing homelesness, such as the recent grand opening of the satellite Saban Community Clinic. Because of Schrader, I was able to get housing.”

In the year since the facility on Schrader has been open 15 people have been able to transition into permanent supportive housing. Guests have ranged from 19 to 72 years old, with an average age of 39. 

More than 14,000 hours of case management support have been provided to guests.

“With one year under our belt, we know now what we believed then, when this was still a parking lot: this is a model that works,” O’Farrell said. “With the right partners and approach, we can help people rebuild their lives and live in our city with dignity. That is the mission of Schrader. Our work is far from done, and the mission continues.”

Independent Staff Report