The Filipino Veterans Parole Program Must Continue!

August 15, 2019

On August 2, 2019, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced their plan to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program based on an executive order pushed forward by Donald Trump.

Wilshire Community Coalition stands in solidarity with KmB / Pro-People Youth and the national alliance of Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) and demands the Trump administration maintain the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, which was originally set to last until 2021.

This program temporarily allowed family members of Filipino World War II veterans, specifically those related to US citizens or green card holders, to remain in the US while waiting for approval of their immigrant visas. The list of family members awaiting approval was decades in the making, with many family members having not seen each other for just as long. Considering the fight for full equity spans across 73 years, this three-year-old parole program is disappointingly short-lived and has been unable to do much to correct the historical mistake of the Rescission Act of 1946.

During World War II, the Philippines was considered a US territory, similar to Puerto Rico and Guam today, and Filipinos were once US nationals. After 260,000 Filipinos served to defend the US, only 10,000 were given full equity. While the US granted the Philippines independence, the Rescission Act of 1946 exclusively denied 250,000 Filipinos their military benefits. Although there are recent victories, like the awarding of congressional gold medals in 2017, there remains a sense of cruelty and unfairness for the thousands who have died waiting on broken promises. For those still alive today, the termination of this parole program extends the list of US’s shortcomings against Filipinos in the US and the Philippines. It showcases how much the US devalues brown lives, commitment, and courage.  

As a community organization, we are allies and long-standing advocates. WWII Filipino American veterans and survivors, like the people of Korea who lived under Japanese Imperialist rule–our grandparents and great-grandparents–are those who have suffered the heinous war crimes and atrocities that were committed by the Japanese Imperial Army. Survivors of heinous war crimes and atrocities that are still being denied by the current Japanese government that has still yet to be held accountable for. As 2020 looms, we will not allow another decade to pass without fighting. We will fight against racist laws and injustices that attempt to debilitate our community. As residents of Los Angeles, Wilshire Community Coalition stands against racism and xenophobia, as it is this same racism and xenophobia, that denies our veterans and their families full recognition.

In the words of the late Mang Peping Baclig, a founder of the JFAV movement, “Nothing is free. You have to fight for your rights. And when you have that right, you have to fight to keep it.”

Following the wise words of Mang Peping, we, all of us together, must carry the torch of the struggle and fight.

Jake Jeong
President
Wilshire Community Coalition

#1 Forum on LA Homelessness: A Solution that Works on July 11, 2019

Radio Korea: LA 노숙자 관련 전문가들 “노숙자 문제 해결하자”

KBS America News ‘노숙자·저소득층 주거난’ 영국적 해결방안은?

LA를 비롯한 캘리포니아주의 노숙자 문제!! 해결될 기미가 보이질 않고 있습니다. 최근 LA시의 노력에도 오히려 노숙자 수가 증가하면서 정부를 믿지 못하는 ‘불신’까지 생겨나고 있는데요, 비영리단체와 시민들이 발벗고 나선 가운데, 오늘 타운에서는 노숙자와 저소득층의 주거난을 해결할 수 있는 영구적인 방안이 제시됐습니다. 김지은 기자가 취재했습니다.

The Korea Daily: “재활없는 노숙자 주택 시간·돈 낭비”

WCC 개최 ‘노숙자 대책 포럼’
NBC 기자·전문가 패널 참석
홈리스 주택 입주 대부분 꺼려
건축비용 고급호텔룸보다 비싸

재활없는 노숙자 주택 시간 & 돈 낭비

SBS Evening News: “홈리스 문제 해결? 재활 심리치료 병행해야”

Korea Times: 노숙자 문제 토론 포럼

Forum on LA Homelessness: A Solution that Works!

Press Release
 
Chan Yong (Jake) Jeong
Wilshire Community Coalition
213-688-2001
wccinla@gmail.com
 
For Immediate Release:
 
Wilshire Community Coalition – A Solution to Homelessness That Works
 
Despite more than 600 million dollars spent in 2018 on housing and shelter initiatives, homelessness increased by 16% in the city of Los Angeles and by 12% in the county. The current system is failing us!  We at Wilshire Community Coalition are committed to finding community-supported solutions to this ever-growing crisis. We invite you to attend our public forum and panel discussion on the following day.
 
Date:   Thursday July 11th, 2019
Time:   10:00~11:30 AM
Place: The Oxford Palace Hotel
745 S. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005.
 
We will investigate and discuss the current systems and various issues that are in place with experts–journalists, economic scholars and developers–to find innovative and efficient ways to find real solutions to this humanitarian crisis. This event will be moderated by Chan Yong “Jake” Jeong, President of Wilshire Community Coalition.  The following experts will be present to offer their suggestions: 
 
·         Joel Grover- Investigative Reporter for NBC4
·         Kevin Hirai- Chief Operating Officer of Flyaway Homes
·         Cristian Ahumada- Executive Director of Clifford Beers Housing
·         Beau Donohoe- The Relevant Group
·         J. David Likens- Lawyer, Activist and Behavioral Health Executive
·         Kristen Jackson- Community Activist
 
 
Community members passionate about making change are welcome to attend. Together, we will discover real solutions for real people.
 

Joint Letter to Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD

Wilshire Community Coalition

 

Joint Letter to Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD

 

November 15, 2018

 

RE: Mural by Branded Arts at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools

 

Dear Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD and their officers,

 

The undersigned community organizations write to raise serious concerns about the Hate Symbol portrayed on the RFK Mural Festival at the School Wall.  It depicts the Rising Sun Flag of the Japanese Imperialism from the World War II. This flag symbolizes the Japanese military aggression which resulted in one of the most of horrendous and gruesome crimes against humanity in human history.

 

Such Japanese military aggression during World War II was motivated by racism, fascism and imperialism and was deeply rooted in the belief in the false superiority of one race over another and resulted in killing over 30 million people including civilians and prisoners of wars. The global community has condemned, denounced and banned such discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity.

 

We value every culture and differences. We love Japan and Germany! However, such cruel history against humanity is not to be repeated.  That is why we ban hate symbols like Swastika of Nazism and anti-Semitism and KKK of White Supremacy in this country.  Yet, the unfortunate lack of education regarding the Japanese Imperialism leaves allows for such ignorance of the Rising Sun Flag.

 

We understand that the Artists of the RFK Mural Festival claim did not intend to offend anyone or promote hate crimes.

 

The RFK Mural Festival (“Mural”) was completed in May 2016.  This image is argued to “depict the profile of Ava Gardner, a classic Hollywood actress who regularly attended the Cocoanut Grove, combined with architectural elements and ornaments from the original site’s brass doors, Moorish arches, columns and palms.” (Beau Stanton, Artist’s website, http://www.beaustanton.com/projects/rfk-mural-festival/)

 

However, this work is not only extremely offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and community stakeholders with cultural heritages that stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism and war crimes committed by the military aggression under the Rising Sun Flag during the World War II but also puts our values for humanity at risk.

 

In the recent past, we believe many of them attempted to express their concerns but to no avail and only became more frustrated. That is why we decided to write this joint letter with community organizations as our last attempt to inform you of the serious offenses you are causing to the entire community in Koreatown and the legal consequences you may face if you continue to ignore our concerns in the future.

 

First, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to you why this Moorish arches or the way the Moorish arches were drawn is offensive and what it represents.

 

The Rising Sun Flag served as “the sole emblem of Japan’s crimes against humanity during the war time.” (Anti Rising Sun Flag.net, http://english.anti-risingsunflag.net)

 

The Rising Sun Flag, symbolizing the Japanese Imperialism is equivalent to the Swastika of Germany Nazism.

 

In short, the Japanese Imperialism killed about 20 million people during the World War II in Asia, including China, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, other Southeast Asian countries, European countries and the United States.  The Japanese Imperialism is responsible for committing one of the most gruesome and horrendous crimes against humanity during the war and the colonization period.  Here is just a glimpse of the horror.

 

  1. Massive Killings were motivated by a racist Pan-Asianism

 

During the Nanking Massacre in China, more than 300,000 civilians, including women, children and elderly were raped and massacred by the Japanese Army.  It wiped out the entire village.  After the attacks, many were killed via genital torture, with some Japanese troops getting their jollies forcing parents to rape their own children at gunpoint.  In Southeast Asia, the Manila massacre resulted in death of 100,000 civilians in Philippines.  In Singapore, the Sook Ching massacre was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among the Chinese population. And the list goes on.

 

Though military brothels existed in the Japanese military since 1932, they expanded widely after one of the most infamous incidents in imperial Japan’s attempt to take over the Republic of China and a broad swath of Asia: the Rape of Nanking. On December 13, 1937, Japanese troops began a six-week-long massacre that essentially destroyed the Chinese city of Nanking.  Along the way, Japanese troops raped between 20,000 and 80,000 Chinese women.  (https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea)

 

  1. Use of Chemical Weapons

 

The Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag, used chemical weapons such as phosgene, chlorine, Lewisite and nausea gas (red), mustard gas (yellow), etc., despite of 1899 Hague Declaration and Article 23(a) of the 1907 Hague Convention IV – The Laws and Customs of War on Land.  A resolution adopted by the League of Nations on 14 May condemned the use of poison gas by Japan.

 

  1. Human Experimentation, “Unit 731 – Maruta”

 

Among the special Japanese military units conducted human experiments on civilians and prisoners of wars, one of the most infamous Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag was Unit 731.

 

To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid.  The arm was later amputated; the doctor would repeat the process on the victim’s upper arm to the shoulder.  After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained.  The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes)

 

The Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag was horrendous crime against humanity.  The humans were tortured for experiments to develop pathological weapons, biological and chemical weapons for mass destruction research of Imperial Japanese Army under the Rising Sun Flag.  They injected pathogens into live human body, vivisection without anesthesia, and extreme temperature survival tests.  Nearly 3000 victims including Asians, Europeans and Americans.  They called the victims as “Maruta” meaning “log” during the experiments.

 

  1. Violence against Women, Comfort Women – Sexual Slaves

 

The Imperial Japan’s fascism under the Rising Sun Flag ran Japanese military brothels in occupied countries.  The innocent young girls and women were recruited by deception or abducted and forced into sexual slavery.  These sex slaves, better known as “Comfort Women” were young girls and women of the occupied territories such as Korea, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.  They were lured with promises of works in factories and other workplaces.  The total number of comfort women is estimated as high as 400,000.  Among them, a few were Japanese prostitutes, some were Chinese, Korean, Filipinos and Dutch people of the occupied territories.  The sexual slaves suffered from 20 to 30 unwanted intercourses per day and were exposed into physical and mental violence, as well as unwanted pregnancies.

 

“It was not a place for humans,” Lee told Deutsche Welle in 2013.  Like other women, she was threatened and beaten by her captors. “There was no rest,” recalled Maria Rosa Henson, a Filipina woman who was forced into prostitution in 1943. “They had sex with me every minute.” (The Brutal History of Japan’s Comfort Woman, https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea)

 

  1. Forced Labor Camps

 

The Imperial Japan had forced labor camps during the World War II with over four to ten million civilians and prisoners of war.  Let alone there were approximately 13,000 Americans who died in the Japanese prison camps due to starvation, beating, murder, execution, etc.

 

Murphy spent one year at a copper mine near Hanawa with about 500 other POWs, an experience he described as “a complete horror.”

“It was slavery in every way: no food, no medicine, no clothing, no sanitation,” Murphy said, adding that it was all the more painful knowing that Mitsubishi built fighter aircraft used against American forces. (Japanese company to apologize for U.S. POWs’ treatment, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mitsubishi-to-apologize-to-us-pows-for-forced-labor-in-japan-during-wwii/)

Therefore, the offenses and aggressions against humanity the Rising Sun Flag poses on the community with what it is associated with, is equivalent to the Swastika of Nazism and anti-Semitism.

 

Once again, the Rising Sun Flag served as the sole emblem of the Imperial Japan’s crimes against humanity during the war time.  Use of the war emblem in such manners is an offense to the community and an aggression towards the humanity as a whole.

 

Second, understanding what the Rising Sun Flag means to the community with multicultural heritages in Koreatown, the RFK Mural Festival poses the same offensiveness and aggression as Swastika of Nazism.  It would have the same emotional and psychological effects that are damaging to the surrounding community as the RFK Schools promoting hate crimes against humanity.

 

The law requires one to take it down even if one commits such offense in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing because of the display of such symbols.

 

California Penal Code, Article 4.5.  Terriorizing [11410 – 11414]

(http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=11411)

ARTICLE 4.5. Terrorizing [11410 – 11414]

( Article 4.5 added by Stats. 1982, Ch. 1624, Sec. 2. )

(a) Any person who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, or who hangs a noose, knowing it to be a symbol representing a threat to life, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, high school, college campus, public park, or place of employment, for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school, park, or place of employment, or who is otherwise associated with the school, park, or place of employment, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(b) Any person who places or displays a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another, without authorization, for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction and by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(c) Any person who engages in a pattern of conduct for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of private property or in reckless disregard of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, by placing or displaying a sign, mark, symbol, emblem, or other physical impression, including, but not limited to, a Nazi swastika, on the private property of another on two or more occasions, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. A violation of this subdivision shall not constitute felonious conduct for purposes of Section 186.22.

(d) Any person who burns or desecrates a cross or other religious symbol, knowing it to be a religious symbol, on the private property of another without authorization for the purpose of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property or in reckless disregard of the risk of terrorizing the owner or occupant of that private property, or who burns, desecrates, or destroys a cross or other religious symbol, knowing it to be a religious symbol, on the property of a primary school, junior high school, or high school for the purpose of terrorizing any person who attends or works at the school or who is otherwise associated with the school, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for the first conviction and by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three years, by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, by a fine not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment for any subsequent conviction.

(e) As used in this section, “terrorize” means to cause a person of ordinary emotions and sensibilities to fear for personal safety.

(f) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 15, Sec. 496. (AB 109) Effective April 4, 2011. Operative October 1, 2011, by Sec. 636 of Ch. 15, as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 39, Sec. 68.)

 

Third, here are just few of the recent cases of the numerous cases which show how the community responds to such hate symbols.

 

  1. Swastika found in Bathroom at Calabasas High School

 

A Swastika was found inside a bathroom at Calabasas High School.  The school’s principal immediately sent an email to parents informing that of the incident and explained that the symbol of the Nazi party, which is synonymous with hate and anti-Semitism, was promptly removed even though it was not hate-motivated. (Swastika found in Bathroom at Calabasas High School, https://patch.com/california/calabasas/swastika-found-bathroom-calabasas-high-school)

 

  1. Zara fashion chain offered children’ pajamas resembling concentration camp uniforms

 

Zara made made a pajama design with an inspiration by the Sheriff’s stars from the Classic Western films.  Yet, when faced with complaints that it bore a disturbing resemblance to concentration camp uniforms, it apologized with sincerity and decided not to have such design in their stores any longer.  Zara withdrew the entire range of design which had more than 3,330 stores in 66 countries. (Zara Apologizes For Pajamas That Look Just Like A Concentration Camp Uniform ,https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/zara-anti-semitism_n_5722162.html)

 

  1. George Washington University is taking action against Jewish student who posted a symbol he brought back from India that resembles Swastika

 

Even though the student argued that the symbol he posted was not a Nazi one but something he brought from India that only looks similar to the Nazi Swastika, the school decided to suspend the student for the act of vandalism.  The university stated that “the Swastika has acquired an intrinsically anti-Semitic meaning, and therefore the act of posting it in a university residence hall is utterly unacceptable.” The university further urged the entire community to be aware of the symbol’s association with genocide perpetuated against the Jewish people and its harmful effects. (Swastikas, Hate and Confusion, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/04/27/universitys-action-over-student-who-posted-swastika-bulletin-board-sets)

 

Every single incident shows that even just a bare similarity was not to be allowed due to what such symbol is associated with and its effects on the community.

 

Just imagine having Swastika along with the profile of Ava Gardner, combined with architectural elements and ornaments from the original site’s brass doors, Moorish arches, columns and palms, at the heart of Jewish community such as Hancock Park or Beverly Hills.  This would definitely bring an uproar from the entire Jewish American community as offensive and unacceptable.

 

Now, you have the entire community in Koreatown regardless of race and ethnicity in front of you, requesting that you consider what the Rising Sun Flag symbol is associated with and its effects on the community.  It is associated with massive killings of innocent people based on race and ethnicity, inhumane crimes against humanity with chemical weapons developed by horrendous human experiments and military aggression at the cost of women as sex slaves and children and men as forced laborers.

 

Failure to clearly understand about the above issue, causes the tragic incident such as the Pittsburg synagogue shooting recently.

 

Please take this as our formal complaint against the schools’ acts in causing the above-explained offenses and/or omission to act in promptly curing the problems caused therefrom.  Please also take this as our formal request that you immediately remove the RFK Mural Festival and replace it with what the true cultural values reflect at the heart of Koreatown, Los Angeles.  We request your schools and LAUSD please let us know whether you would comply with our requests by letting us know by no later than 5 p.m. on 11/30/2018.  In doing so, we ask that you uphold the international commitment to protect and respect the values of humanity.

We stand with the listed community organizations.

 

Very truly yours,

 

 

__________________________________

Chan Yong (Jake) Jeong, Esq.

President

Wilshire Community Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

We, the undersigned, believe that the RFK Mural Festival is offensive and threatening to many survivors, descendants and community stakeholders with cultural heritages that stand in absolute opposition of the Japanese Imperialism and war crimes committed by the military aggression under the Rising Sun Flag during the World War II. Considering the fact that such Hate Symbol of the Rising Sun Flag is associated with one of the most gruesome and horrendous crimes against humanity, the display of such Hate Symbol at the public schools where children are being educated is unacceptable and intolerable.  Therefore, we the undersigned hereby demand the RFK Community Schools and LAUSD apologize to the entire student body and the community for the unintended offenses they committed and remove the Hate Symbol from the school wall immediately.

 

 

Wilshire Community Coalition

KNA Memorial Foundation

Young Korean Academy

Korean Liberation Association

Korean Roots Foundation in America

  • Women’s Association in U.S.A.

Korean American Mothers Association

The Korean Veterans Association in Western Region of the USA

Korean Senior Citizens Mutual Club

Hwarang Youth Foundation

Phil Sung Kim, President, Korean American Dental Association

The Korean Veterans Association

U.S.S.CA. Association of Korean-American From N. Korea

Korean MP Veteran’s Association in USA

Korean Army Veterans Association

The Korea Retired Field Grade Officers Association

Korean American Veterans Ministry

Korean American Foundation of Los Angeles

PAVA World

Comfort Women Justice Coalition

The Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force

William P. Min, Attorney at Law

Sylvia Yu Friedman, Author of “Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women” and Film Producer, Journalist, Writer

Namhee Lee, Director of Korean Studies, Professor of Modern Korean History, UCLA

Seung-Ah Lee, Ph.D, Lecturer of Korean Studies, UCLA

Ki Suk Jun, Board Member, WCKNC

Hye Kyung Joung, JD, Wilshire Community Coalition

World Mission TKD Association

World Martial Arts Medi-therapy Association

International Qi-gong Research Association

Abroad KA Air- Marshall Association

World Miracle-hand Therapy Association

Choong-Hyo Taekwondo Group

Jason Chu, Hip-Hop Artist, Poet and Activist

 

Click here for a full 96 pages of documents

Joint Letter to Robert F Kennedy Community Schools, LAUSD

 

2nd Letter sent to Council President Herb Wesson regarding the Emergency Homeless Shelter at the proposed site on Hoover & Wilshire on 9/5/18

September 6, 2018

Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr.

Via Email: councilmember.wesson@lacity.org

Re: FOLLOWING UP ON THE MEETING ON AUGUST 2, 2018

Dear Council President Wesson,

The Wilshire Community Coalition (“WCC”) has held discussion sessons regrding the proposed Homeless Shelters in District 10 with both interested parties and experts on homlessness.  We would like to summarize what was discussed and share with you some of the community’s requests, concerns and questions.

We appreciate you mentioning the importance of communication during your recent radio interview.  We also believe that when we communicate, personally and truthfully, without outside motivations or agendas, we can resolve the issues together even when facing the most difficult questions.  Some of the issues discussed below may not be easy to deal with or discuss, but we believe we can do this by both sides putting forth our greatest efforts.

Location of the New Shelter

Many community members still ask, if there is a better place to serve the homeless and minimize the impact to the community, shouldn’t we consider it?

The City of Los Angeles will spend millions of dollars on District 10’s new homeless shelters, not only for building the shelters, but also operating them.  While some may agree with placing a shelter in the new site at Hoover and Wilshire, some others do not.  They have expressed concerns that the procedural problems that have existed from the beginning of this process, i.e. lack of public input and an incomplete search for what truly is the best site to help the homeless, still exist now.

The City in early May initiated these discussions improperly, by unncessarily creating the adversarial setting that we have been trying to correct for several months.  Yet, there are still fundamental questions to be answered, from the point of view of the homless persons for whom the shelters are being built.  Their safety, their health, their privacy, and their freedom have all been placed at risk due to the failures of existing homeless shelters.  If the new shelters do not address these issues, they, too, will fail.

Learning from Existing Shelters

Many of the homeless population living on the streets today have been refusing to go to existing shelters.  The shelters have empty beds, but those living on the streets still do not want to use them, the reason of which are:

1. Safety.

The existing shelters are not safe.  There have been many reports of physical attacks, sexual assaults, and vandalism.

2. Hygiene.

The existing shelters are not clean.  Poor hygiene has led to the spread of serious illnesses among the homeless population, such as the recent lethal outbreak of Hepatitis A.

3. Privacy.

Existing shelters do not provide private areas for individuals, and little division between beds.

4. Freedom.

Many homeless individuals do not wish to be limited by the rules of a homeless shelter.

Safety

Homeless individulas have complained that existing shelters are unsafe.  If you become homeless and go to a shelter, you are housed with those suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness.  Those living in shelters are forced to sleep in an open space together, leading to attacks and sexual assaults.

If we do not take measures to ensure the new shelters are operated in a much different manner than existing shelters, the same safety issues will be present.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (“LAHSA”) has identified serveral categories of homeless individuals.  These include families with children, adults, youths under 18 years of age, veterans, victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking victims, and individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders, serious mental illness, and physical illness and/or disability.  Each category has become homeless for different reasons, and they each have different needs.

Many community members and experts say that the big picture, as it currently stands, is wrong.  Hundreds of shelters presently accommodate everyone together, without serving the differnet needs of each category of homeless persons.  This has caused the shelters to fail.  The city must embrace a differnet big picture, one that provides different shelters for each category of homelessness.  Otherwise, the homeless population will continue to avoid the new shelters and the new shelters will fail.

We understand the new shelter at El Pueblo now has 3 trailers in each of which 15 homeless persons would be accommodated.  The concern is how the safety of the 15 homeless persons in each trailer can be secured unless there would be security staffs and other experts staying in each trailer 24/7, which may not be practically viable, or even if we do so, would be a very inefficient way of operating the shelter only to unnecessarily waste money.  With the above-suggested change of big picture, each shelter may operate more efficiently while spending less costs.

Rather than attempt to ease these problems after they have occurred, we urge the City to please address these problems before they begin.  The homeless persons say existing shelters are not safe.  We must think about how to designate each category of homeless shelter now, or face the same failures.  We should stop the problems before they begin.

Hygiene

The homeless population has complained of numerous problems with hygiene at existing shelters, such as bed bugs and generally unclean conditions.  Some feel that creating their own accommodations on the street is cleaner than living in a shelter.

In many cases, they are correct.  Many of those living on the streets seek decent, clean, and quiet shelter, like everyone else, but homeless persons have complained that the shelters have failed to provide for these basic needs.

When the proposed shelters open, they will be clean and new.  But when all of the shelters’ new residents move in, they will be placed in an open space together.  Some will keep their areas clean.  Others will not.  Some will be mindful of their personal hygiene, by keeping their clothes clean and taking regular showers.  Some may refuse to do so.  If shelter residents do not keep their areas clean or care for their personal hygiene, the shelters may not be clean enough to live in, like other existing shelters.

This becomes an issue, as there is no way to force individuals to keep the shelters or themselves clean without rules, but this arguably intrudes upon their personal freedom, which has been another reason why the homeless persons have complained about.

Privacy 

Many homeless persons have complained that there is a lack of privacy in existing shelters, and have cited this as one of the reasons why they refuse to live in the shelters.

The new shelters are being designed without individual rooms, likely for safety reasons.  Instead, areas for each individual resident will be separated by shoulder-height dividers, making it easy for residents to see each other while they are sleeping.

Freedom

Many homeless person have expressed their desire for freedom and stated that this is one reason why they continue to live on the streets.  Many have avoided shelters because of shelter rules that they feel restrict their personal freedom.  However, without some rules in place, other shelter residents are exposed to greater risks.

It is our understanding that the new shelters will not have sobriety rules.  According to this approach, while shelter residents may not be allowed to drink alcohol or consume illegal substnces in the shelters, they may do so outside of the shelters and enter shelters while under the influence.  This raises concerns regarding safety, hygiene, and privacy.  While under the influence, shelter residents may become disruptive, aggressive, violent, or confrontational, exposing other shelter residents to noise, attacks, nuisances, and other dangers.  Any security officers assigned to the shelters will be forced to say or do something, and suddenly a rule is in place.

Suggestions and Questions

1. No Response Yet to the Letter Sent by Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council

In mid-July, the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council sent a formal letter to both you and Mayor Garcetti, raising many questions and making a number of requests regarding the proposed homeless shelters.  As of today’s date, no response has been received.  We hereby request that you respond to this letter as soon as possible, as the community and the press are anxiously awaiting your response.

2. Request for an In-Person Meeting with You

We would ask you please meet with the Wilshire community residents face-to-face for real communications.  The residents of the community would like to sit down with you and discuss their concerns, suggestions, and questions.  They are also anxious to receive an in-person response from you.

We believe that hearing from each other among residents, experts and you would enhance the understanding about the existing plan on the new shelters and enable us to come up with even a better plan together.  Furthermore, having met with you mroe than once, we believe that an in-person meeting with you would be an opportunity for all parties to share their points of view and find a much-needed middle ground.

We are requesting this meeting sooner than later.  Many questions still remain, especially regarding the “big picture” plan for implementing the enw shelters in District 10.  This needs to be discussed as soon as possible.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; if we wait until the current plan is already in motion, it will be costly and difficult to change course or address the problems that will arise.  The issues with existing shelters demonstrate how challenging it can be to fix a problem once it has taken hold.

Based on the above, we suggest that you please allow the community meet with you in-person at least two times in the month of September.

3. Safety Issues

The City’s current approach to homeless shelters is to bring all categories of homeless persons together in a single open space, without considering the special needs of each category.  Many residents and experts on homelessness disagree with this method, and urge the City to designate each shelter, including existing shelters and the new shelters, to serve different categories of homeless persons.

Categorizing shelters will help in better serving homeless persons for their different needs such as job training for those in shelters who are homeless due to economic reasons, drug and alcohol treatment plans for those suffering from substances abuse disorders, and medical care for residents who suffer from physical illenesses and disabilities.

4. Safety, Hygiene, Privacy, and Freedom

We understand that giving each resident separate rooms will create safety concerns.  However, only separating each individual area with shoulder-height walls will create privacy issues, and the new shelter residents will complain.

The hygiene issues in existing shelters are also a serious problem, one that will plague the new shelters if it is not addressed before the shelters are built.

The issue of freedom in shelters is typically not raised by those who became homeless due to economic reasons.  More often, it is a concern voiced by those suffering from substance abuse disorders who wish to be free from restrictions on their consumption.

These are difficult issues that have not been resolved by existing shelters, and will become a problem for the new shelters if they are not addressed now.  The members of the WCC believe that the City should consult experts on homelessness, and may need additional data from existing shelters to formulate a more effective approach.

We would propse that District 10 provide different shelters for the different categories of homeless individuals.  Doing so allows each shelter to address the particular needs of each group, which differ widely from one category to the next.

5. Drop-In Centers

Experts on homelessness have often recommended “drop-in centers” as a means to prevent temporary homelessness from becoming permanent.

There are many individuals who have become homeless solely due to economic reasons (e.g., they became unable to pay rent because they lost their jobs and had nowhere else to go).  In such cases, the longer they get to stay on street, the harder for them to get new jobs to get off the street.  Using drop-in centers, we can help them in making their unfortunate economic situation only temporary, and resolving their financial issues once  new job has been secured.

Drop-in centers are designed to provide housing during this temporary period between jobs.  Residents are given temporary housing for three to nine months while they search for a new job, and they move out once a new job has been secured.  Exprets say this option would help many individuals avoid becoming permanently homeless.

Including drop-in centers as a type of homeless shelter offered by the City could help alleviate the City’s already homeless problem and slow its continued growth.

6. Affordable Housing Projects

Your suggestion on August 2, 2018 included the projects of building affordable housings at both 682 S. Vermont Ave. and 923 S. Kenmore Ave.  The community members want to know more about the details and the timeline you may have.  Many of them expressed their concerns or suspicions that these projects may be delayed or canceled.  It would help in addressing them if you could please share more details about your paln on the projects.

Conclusion

We would like to hear from you whether you have a plan that addresses these concerns, and what your thoughts are on these issues.  The WCC asks that you please consider the issues discussed above and give us your responses thereto as soon as you can.  In particular, we ask tht you please, by September 14, 2018 provide potential dates for at least two in-person meetings between you and the Wilshire Community residents this month.  The meetings will give all parties the opportunity to discuss the issues and work together to come up with the best solution.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me any time.

Sincerely,

[Signed by]

Chan Yong “Jake” Jeong, Esq.

President of Wilshire Community Coalition

A Bridge Home for the Homeless: Is LA Up to the Task?

Friday, October 19, 2018 at 07:15 AM
Helms Design Center in Culver City, CA

A Bridge Home for the Homeless: Is LA Up to the Task? (NON-MEMBERS-use this form to register)

Westside Urban Forum

LA voters overwhelmingly voted in Measure HHH to build housing for the homeless. But when Mayor Garcetti challenged City Councilmembers to build A Bridge Home shelters in all 15 districts, many local stakeholders balked, protesting against chosen sites. Many of these are the very neighborhoods where street encampments are the most prevalent and complaints are often loudest. In Koreatown, the Council Office’s peremptory siting of a Bridge Home shelter resulted in major protests. Once the parties sat down together, they worked it out, but the pushback has continued in Venice and elsewhere. . Many opponents, and even some supporters, question whether A Bridge Home is a serious effort to combat homelessness as much as a PR initiative by the city.

Even if A Bridge Home succeeds, it will leave 90% of the city’s homeless on sidewalks. City officials have promised to clean up encampments as part of the program, but the 9th Circuit court recently ruled that cities can’t prohibit sleeping in public if enough shelter beds aren’t available. Officials explain that the first occupants will soon move on to permanent housing, making room for others in their place — but housing providers say there’s no housing to move to.

If the program falls short of the promises, what lies in store for other programs? How will neighborhoods and public officials agree on sites for Not on My Sidewalk, Not in My Backyard – A Bridge Home supportive housing? How much longer will homeless people languish on our streets? Join WUF October 19 for a frank discussion by panelists straight from the front lines, who understand the complex needs, conundrums, and the life-and-death stakes of making A Bridge Home a success.

Panelists
Chan Yong Jeong
President
Wilshire Community Coalition

Shawn Landres
Chair, County of Los Angeles Quality and Productivity Commission;
City of Santa Monica Planning Commissioner & former Chair, Social Services Commission

John Maceri
Executive Director
The People Concern

Shayla Myers
Staff Attorney, Housing and Communities Workgroup
Legal Aid Foundation Los Angeles

Tommy Newman
Director,Public Affairs
United Way of Greater Los Angeles

Moderator
Carla Hall
Editorial Board Member
Los Angeles Times

Location
Helms Design Center @ the Helms Bakery campus
8745 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Google map and directions

Parking
Available in the adjacent, interior parking garage at 8711 Washington Blvd., Culver City (look for the red banners), or ample street parking, or via the Expo Light Rail line, one block to the east of Helms Bakery.

7:15am-9am

7:15am Registration
7:30am Breakfast
7:45am Panel Discussion

$50 members
$65 nonmembers
$10 student members
$15 student nonmembers

Pre-registration closes on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. After October 17, 2018 and at onsite registration the cost will be an additional $10. No refunds or credits will be provided after this date.