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Winter shelters available for homeless as temperatures expected to drop into 30s

Man wearing a cowboy hat sits outside in a city playing the guitar
Billy Jones, who is currently unhoused, plays the guitar on the corner where he sleeps in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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As temperatures in Los Angeles drop into the 30s this week, the county is providing “winter shelter” facilities for homeless people who need to escape the cold.

A winter storm is passing through Los Angeles on Tuesday evening with fierce winds of up to 70 miles per hour in the mountains and perhaps a smattering of precipitation. The storm will move out early Wednesday morning, leaving clear but cold weather in its wake, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“Tomorrow night into Wednesday morning as skies clear out and the storm exits, areas that are not getting a lot of wind you’re gonna see overnight lows dropping into the 30s,” said Rich Thompson, a meteorologist with the NWS.

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Thompson predicted lows of around 40 in downtown L.A. and even colder, from 34 to 38 degrees in the San Fernando Valley.

Temperatures are expected to fall into the 30s. Winds could reach 50 to 70 mph in some areas, creating the potential for damage.

Feb. 12, 2023

The frigid temperatures led Los Angeles County to release a cold weather alert notifying residents that its Winter Shelter Program was open to homeless Angelenos.

Homeless residents can call 2-1-1 to check availability of beds during the cold spell, though there are only about 190 available beds at five shelters throughout the county, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority website.

“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” Muntu Davis, the Los Angeles County health officer at the Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbeques [sic] or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

The cold weather alert issued by the county will be in effect from Tuesday to Friday in certain areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley, but it is only in effect Wednesday for downtown L.A.

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Mayor Karen Bass wants officials to vet each of its vacant surplus properties by March 31 to determine which would work best for homeless housing.

Feb. 11, 2023

The county will also get a little rain this week, with less than a tenth of an inch expected to fall Tuesday morning, mostly across mountainous areas and interior slopes, according to Thompson.

The snow level will be dropping to an elevation of around 2,000 feet, causing hazardous driving conditions as wind and flurries swirl in the mountains, Thompson said.

The Grapevine pass on the 5 Freeway and Highway 14 could be particularly treacherous for drivers Tuesday, he said.

Cold and dry conditions will follow on Wednesday and Thursday, but the weekend is expected to bring another threat of showers, Thompson said, with less than a quarter of an inch likely to fall in the county. Thompson said the storm did not appear particularly strong.

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