According to 2020 federal data, there are more than 160,000 unhoused residents in the State of California. The Skid Row community comprises 55 square blocks in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles which serves as home to 4,600 unhoused residents — the highest concentration of unhoused individuals nationwide.
In 2018, Mayor Eric Garcetti created the Mayor's Office of City Homelessness Initiatives (MOCHI) as part of the comprehensive strategy to end homelessness in Los Angeles. A key component to this strategy was the creation of the Skid Row Strategies Team. The Skid Row Strategies Team is fully dedicated to developing key strategies, transformative policy, and collaborative relationships to transition the Skid Row community to a safe, healthy environment. As part of the Skid Row Strategies, Mayor Garcetti’s Office of City Homeless Initiatives has implemented a number of community-initiated programs and services to increase the quality of life of this community and the capacity of supportive services for our most vulnerable populations.
Skid Row Programs
The ReFresh Spot
The ReFreshSpot offers a safe space for the Skid Row community to access showers, restrooms, laundry, phone charging, and drinking water. It is a public facility open 24/7 to anyone in the community. Much-needed supplies are also distributed, including: hygiene and wound care kits, socks, undergarments, overdose prevention kits, pet supplies, and more.
The ReFresh Spot provides a place for people to get their basic needs met with dignity and is a collaborative project operated by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles (HHCLA), with support from Social Model Recovery Systems and Goodwill of Southern California.
- The ReFresh Spot: 544 Towne Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Through partnerships with the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Chrysalis manages several safe storage programs throughout Downtown Los Angeles. The Bin is a place where individuals may access free, secure, personal storage. Between the location on San Pedro Street and the original location on Towne Avenue, there are now 2,550 units of safe storage accessible in the Skid Row neighborhood.
- The Bin @ San Pedro: 540 San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013(1,100 Bins)
- The Bin @ Towne: 507 Towne Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (1,550 Bins)
Skid Row Clean Team
Through a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Urban Alchemy, the Skid Row Clean Team program has been effective at remediating trash and debris while positively engaging with people experiencing homelessness. Additionally, they provide training, employment, career, and workforce development to prevent future homelessness to some of our most vulnerable Skid Row community members.
The Pit Stops
Through a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Urban Alchemy, The Pit Stops provide a safe place to access restroom services throughout the day, and in some locations, 24 hours seven days a week throughout the Skid Row. Additionally, they provide training, employment, and career development in an effort to prevent future homelessness.
The Cooling Centers
Skid Row Cooling Centers work to address the escalating health crisis of heat exposure by installing temporary and staffed “Cooling Canopies'' throughout the neighborhood that are activated during the hottest summer months. Providing emergency relief to unhoused residents, services at the “Cooling Canopies” include shade, water, sun protection products, ice, and mist.
The Cooling Centers were staffed by Urban Alchemy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provided a point of connection for Skid Row community members.
In summer 2021, these Cooling Centers were activated from July until October at the following locations:
- 5th & San Pedro
- 5th & Towne
- 6th & San Pedro (by Midnight Mission)
- 531 Towne (in front of ReFresh Spot)
Skid Row Interim and Permanent Housing
The Housing Justice Program (Project 100 Pilot)
The Housing Justice Program, piloted as Project 100, is dedicated to implementing the recommendations of the LAHSA Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness and the LAHSA Ad Hoc Committee on Women Experiencing Homelessness. Together, these reports found that education, housing, healthcare, and employment policies over time have led to deep inequities, racial disparities, and systemic racism among people experiencing homelessness. The reports further demonstrated disparities among housing outcomes for Black women in particular. For this reason, Project 100 was designed to enhance existing service models to quickly and permanently house 100 of Skid Row’s most vulnerable female-identifying residents while co-designing an enhanced culturally responsive model to help women stay and thrive in housing.
With nearly 2,000 women facing homelessness on any given night in the Skid Row community, supporting 100 women was never a satisfactory result. Still, it was the start of a scalable model to serve more. This innovative program aims to provide culturally responsive services to 100 unhoused women living in Skid Row who have experienced long-term homelessness and have been historically underserved by traditional housing programs.
Women housed through the Housing Justice Program have access to a variety of wrap-around supportive services, including:
- Housing specialists to assist with housing navigation and retention
- Peer specialists with lived experience and knowledge of community resources
- Employment coordinators to alleviate barriers to gainful employment
- Clinicians to provide trauma-informed, culturally responsive emotional support in individual and group settings
Once the Project 100 pilot was completed, the program was renamed The Housing Justice Program.
Mayor Garcetti led the coalition to pass Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond to more than triple L.A.'s annual production of supportive housing and help build approximately 10,000 units for homeless Angelenos across the city.
The solution to homelessness is housing, which is why it is vital to bring permanent supportive housing developments to the Skid Row community. This has been made possible by Proposition HHH. There are currently three projects completed and open, totalling in 132 supportive housing units. In addition, there are four projects that are currently in construction, which will result in 463 supportive housing units. There is also one project that is estimated to begin construction in November 2022 which will result in 83 supportive housing units (678 supportive housing units in total).
Housing Resources in Skid Row
Skid Row Missions
- The Midnight Mission
- Union Rescue Mission
- Los Angeles Mission
- Fred Jordan Missions
- Emmanuel Baptist Rescue Mission
Skid Row Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Housing
- SRO Housing Corporation
- Skid Row Development Corporation
- Skid Row Housing Trust
- Healthy Housing Foundation
- Independently owned and operated SRO’s
Skid Row Partners Highlight
Chrysalis is a nonprofit organization and employment social enterprise that serves people navigating barriers to the workforce. The organization welcomes all working age adults, including community members with limited employment history, unstable housing, or experience with homelessness and/or justice system involvement. Through its job-readiness program, individualized supportive services, and paid transitional jobs, Chrysalis focuses on empowering clients on their pathway to stability, security, and fulfillment in their work and lives.
The Skidrow Brigade (WE GET UP & GET BUSY), is a volunteer unit, which is now considered the "greatest volunteer unit in Downtown Los Angeles.” This title was earned in 2005, after spending 8 months, day and night, cleaning up the streets, and San Julian Street in particular. Founded in 1996, the Skid Row Brigade is a special unit of Skid Row community members, capable of being mobilized within 24 hours on a grassroots level. Its commitment is uplifting men over 40 years, organizing the skills and talents of the community and creating a clean, safe, healthy environment in Skid Row.
Members of the Skidrow Brigade continue to be engaged 24/7, providing consultation to community residents concerning issues of mental health, social services, social security, drug programs, and housing. The Skidrow Brigade continues to act as liaison between local community groups, community leaders, and civic officials.
Urban Alchemy transforms people and urban spaces with respect and compassion to heal communities and cities. They are a social enterprise that engages with situations where extreme poverty meets homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. Urban Alchemy is a peaceful and supportive presence, inviting communities to rebuild and restore a sense of pride and respect in urban spaces. Urban Alchemy makes public areas safer so that people are no longer at risk of being assaulted, harmed, or left alone. Their practitioners are a compassionate and peaceful presence that restore safety and cleanliness in the streets. When an area loses its sense of pride, Urban Alchemy helps communities find it again.