L.A.’s winter homeless shelter gets an upgrade: motel vouchers

A woman swaddled in blankets is assisted by another woman.
Aldora Smith is assisted by Rose Rios, right, on a rainy day in March 2018. They collected Smith’s belongings and she was transported to a shelter.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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In the past, when the weather turned cold and wet, people living on the street had two choices: hunker down or get to one of the winter shelters spread across Los Angeles County.

This year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is offering a third choice: a motel voucher. Anyone who can’t get to one of the shelters that opened Nov. 1 or can’t tolerate the shelter environment can get a motel room for the night.

The winter shelter program has downsized from 11 sites last year to only five this year. The money saved will pay for 142 vouchers a day in the city of Los Angeles and 367 for the remainder of the county.


Stephen David Simon, LAHSA’s interim executive director, said the change “addresses the number of fixed beds that often went unused many nights and redirects those resources where extreme weather makes staying on the street the most untenable.”

Homelessness among Latinos has shot up in Los Angeles County while other demographic groups have seen a decline over the last two years.

Oct. 28, 2022

What LAHSA is calling its Augmented Winter Shelter Program will go into effect only under the severest conditions, when:

  • The National Weather Service forecasts three days of low daytime temperatures accompanied by night wind chill of 32 degrees or less.
  • A forecast of 1 inch of rain in 24 hours.
  • A forecast of three consecutive days of 1 to 4 inches of rain or more accompanied by temperatures at or below 50 degrees.
  • The National Weather Service issues a flood watch or warning.
  • Other undefined conditions deemed by officials to pose a critical need.

Under those conditions, the county will take requests for vouchers through its 211 system. The 211 operators can arrange for a ride-sharing service to pick up and drop off callers and make motel reservations.

Recipients can use the vouchers anywhere, but LAHSA also has a list of motels that have agreed to make rooms available.

The county of Los Angeles and the city of Los Angeles jointly fund the shelters. LAHSA contracts with nonprofit service providers to operate them.

This year the shelters will be at 45150 60th St. W. in Lancaster; 12426 Whittier Blvd. in Whittier and in Los Angeles at the following addresses: 8311 S. Western Ave.; 222 E. 25th St. and 2155 S. West View St.