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Anaheim will fulfill requirements of legal settlement when homeless shelter opens next week

The new La Mesa Emergency Shelter, a the temporary 102 bed homeless shelter and support services cen
A new, 102-bed homeless shelter on La Mesa Street in Anaheim will begin admitting guests on March 6.
(Don Leach / Times OC)

Next week’s planned opening of a 102-bed homeless shelter in Anaheim will fulfill the terms of a legal settlement requiring that the city provide 325 beds by early 2019, city officials say.

The agreement — reached in November — was made in response to a lawsuit launched by homeless advocates after the removal of a tent city near Angel Stadium.

The 12,500-square-foot shelter in a former piano store at 3035 E. La Mesa St. includes beds for men, women, couples and families, and will provide meals and various support services. There’s also a 10,000-square-foot outdoor space with an area for pets.

Starting March 6, some 98 homeless clients will be transferred to the new center from a 200-bed emergency winter shelter the city opened in December.


In early February, the city opened a 224-bed shelter on a 2-acre open-air site on Salvation Army grounds — also part of the legal settlement.

Mike Lyster, spokesman for City of Anaheim talks about the mens’ bathrooms in the new La Mesa Emerge
Mike Lyster, the city of Anaheim’s chief communications officer, stands in one of the bathrooms in the new homeless shelter on La Mesa Street.
(Don Leach / Times OC)

The Orange-based Illumination Foundation, which ran the emergency shelter, will operate La Mesa. Much of the equipment, such as washers and kitchen appliances, from the emergency shelter will be moved over.

The new shelter offers two rooms for families and beds for 52 women, 30 men and four couples. Each group will have its own sleeping quarters.


In working with the Salvation Army, La Mesa staffers will take in more women while the other facility will provide more beds for men, Paul Cho, chief financial officer of Illumination Foundation, said during a Tuesday tour of the La Mesa site.

La Mesa’s building, aquistion, construction and operation costs added up to $12 million.

The shelter offers a kitchen, dining area, laundry room, lounge, counseling and computer room, as well as a separate area for 15 on-site staffers. Employees include program and case managers, therapists and counselors.

Garden Grove-based Bracken’s Kitchen will provide residents three meals a day.

The La Mesa bathrooms are a substantial improvement from the emergency shelter’s portables, which had plumbing issues. Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said there were limitations with what the city could do in building an emergency shelter in just a few weeks.

Artwork donated ad created by the community, waits to be added to the walls of the new La Mesa Emerg
Artwork donated by the community will adorn the walls of the new homeless shelter on La Mesa Street in Anaheim.
(Don Leach / Times OC)

La Mesa is couched between the county’s 200-bed Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter and the Taboo Gentlemen’s Club.

La Mesa residents will be required to sign out and provide information on where they are going, Cho said.


Brenda Kachelmeyer became homeless three months ago when her employer shut down. Earlier in her life she enjoyed stability.

“I worked for years for banks, I had a 401[k] — this made me realize that you are just a step away from homelessness,” she said.

She will transfer from the emergency shelter to La Mesa next week.

“It was amazing, and I felt like I was home,” Kachelmeyer said of the emergency shelter. “When you are out there on the street, you are on survival mode. When you have a place to stay, you can relax.”