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Hollywood library converted to emergency homeless shelter for women

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“This building is about second chances”

A row of bunkbeds with gift bags on them.
The Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center in West Hollywood has 30 beds.
Photos by Jessica Flores

LA’s seventh “bridge” shelter opened today in Hollywood as part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “A Bridge Home,” a $20 million program to open emergency homeless shelters in all 15 City Council districts.

Proposed two years ago by Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center—which used to be a library—will provide 30 beds, bathrooms and showers, a kitchen, dining area, support services, and other amenities to 30 women. Unlike some of the other bridge sites, it’s a permanent structure, and it will have an all-women staff.

“For me, this building is about second chances,” Ryu said today, at the shelter’s opening. He says the shelter “shows us the way forward” to solving LA’s homeless crisis.

Built in 1958, the former library has a modern design with brick walls, bookshelves, and couches in several areas for lounging. In the sleeping area, low partition walls divide twin beds to give residents privacy. The original circulation desk and central clock were left from the conversion.

Garcetti said the Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center will help serve the needs of women who’ve experienced trauma by staffing licensed clinical social workers and providing life skill training and other services.

“We see you, and now you can come home,” Garcetti said.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness, many who are women. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the number of women experiencing homelessness countywide swelled 13 percent in the last year to 18,331.

Three white round tables with green chairs in the dining area of the new Gardner Street Women’s Bridge Housing Center in West Hollywood.
Book shelf across a couch and a computer where future tenants can relax or read a book.
Outdoor seating area with a wooden table, chairs and lounging chairs available for future tenants.

Top: The dining area. Left: A reading area with a computer for residents to use. Right: An outdoor gated seating area.

Alma Justo, a housing locator for Comprehensive Housing Information and Referrals in Los Angeles, works with people who have HIV/AIDS, many of whom, she said, are homeless. Justo was at the shelter’s opening and said she’s looking forward to referring her clients to the Gardner Street center.

“I just hope that it isn’t only certain agencies that can refer [people], because sometimes they do that,” she said.

A large wood desk in a U-shape in front of a brick wall with wood bookshelves.
The circulation desk leftover from the building’s original use as a library.

The bridge sites are designed to give homeless residents a safe but temporary place to live while they find permanent housing.

Councilmember Marqueece-Harris Dawson and Garcetti opened the sixth project Monday in Hyde Park in South Los Angeles. The Hyde Park location holds 100 beds and is one of four projects slated to open in South LA.