Apartments offer studios for homeless and low-income people

Listen to the audio story:


A series of unfortunate events left Robert Smith without money or a place to live. For years, he struggled with homelessness and economic instability. But now, he has his very own studio apartment.

“You ought to see my apartment,” Smith said. “I have my own bathroom. This is a big deal.”

Single Room Occupancy Housing Corporation celebrated the grand opening of its latest housing project. Renato Apartments offers 96 studio apartments on San Julian Street for homeless and low-income individuals.

Councilwoman Jan Perry was among local and congressional representatives attending the opening.

“This community has demonstrated that we believe in mixed income communities, and that they can and do do work,” Perry said.

There are still thousands of homeless across Los Angeles. But with Smith and others moving in to these new apartments, a small bite is taken out of homelessness in the city.

Winter shelters close, forcing hundreds of homeless back to the streets

The entrance hallway at the Union Rescue Mission on San Pedro Street in Skid Row is filled with noise and people. Some are signing in, securing a bed for the night. Others are hoping for more long-term help. There are children. There are suitcases. There are rooms full of people waiting, staring at the walls and rarely speaking to one another. Behind one set of doors, light streams through a window shaped like a cross. The chapel is empty, save for a man practicing at the piano.

At Union Rescue Mission, both hope and despair is housed in one building.

Up on the roof, CEO Rev. Andy Bales is dousing the barbecue with a full bottle of lighter fluid. He puts a match to the charcoal and everyone takes a few steps back as the flames roar to life. Bales is well known for his tendency to start fires — literally, and metaphorically.

Tonight, guests will share one last meal before the winter officially comes to an end. The winter shelters will no longer remain open after today. Vying for beds will be harder when there is 1,600 fewer of them. The Union Rescue Mission appealed to the state and local government for an extension, but received no reply.

According to Bales, more families experiencing homelessness for the first time have been showing up at the mission since the Recession. Foreclosures and evictions are sending people straight from normality into Skid Row within the space of a few hours. The winter shelters have seen an increased number of homeless people seeking shelter since last year, with a 74 percent rise reported at the Glendale facility.

Around 1,600 people, said Bales, will return to the streets in March.

Listen to Rev. Andy Bale:

More from the Union Rescue Mission: An average day at a winter shelter:

Housing the homeless has benefits


The streets of Los Angeles are home to the highest population of homeless people in the country. It may be that getting them off the streets and into permanent housing could help them and the county’s purse strings, according to a study conducted by the United Way. Listen to this report from Annenberg Radio News reporter Dominic Riley.

United Way Homeless Walk

Beyond Shelter’s Barbara Hill on Homelessness in South LA

ARN’s Kaitlin Funaro speaks with Barbara Hill of Beyond Shelter about what non-profits are doing to help combat homelessness in Los Angeles. She says the increase in homeless in South LA is putting a strain on local services.

Homelessness in Los Angeles

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the greater Los Angeles area $73 million in grants, but it won’t be enough to solve the crisis.  Homeless service organizations are reporting an increase in homeless families, and are struggling to make do with limited resources.  Parts of this story were featured on Annenberg Radio News; click below to listen.

Additional information:

Programs in South L.A. receiving funding


Programs in South L.A. receiving funding

from the new HUD grants:


39 West Apartments

Funding: $175,000.00

Run by: A Community of Friends


Figueroa Apartments

Funding: $210,433.00

Run by: A Community of Friends


Pearl Center, The

Funding: $246,780.00

Run by: His Sheltering Arms


Ready, Willing and Able Program (a)

2008-09 Funding: $93,310.00

Run by: Project New Hope


Saraii Village

2008-09 Funding: $90,395.00

Run by: The Shields for Families


South Central Drop-In Center

2008-09 Funding: $387,743.00

Run by: Special Services for Groups



TCLC Training Center & Child Care Programs

2008-09 Funding: $157,436.00

Run by: Testimonial Community Love Center


Women and Children First

2008-09 Funding: $136,216.00

Run by: California Council for Veterans Affairs