BELL — Construction of 64 affordable studio apartments for the homeless began in earnest on Monday as the Salvation Army hosted the official groundbreaking ceremony adjacent to the organization’s existing Bell Shelter.
The permanent supportive dwellings, named the Bell Oasis Apartments, are planned for U.S. veterans, including those facing chronic mental illness or disability and chronic homelessness. The complex is scheduled to open in Spring 2018.
“A project like this doesn’t just happen in a vacuum,” said Major Osei Stewart, General Secretary for the Southern California Division, at the ceremony as reported by New Frontier Chronicle. “It happens because of many like-minded people in the community come together for a common cause and for the common good.”
The New Frontier Chronicle, The source of news and networking for The Salvation Army, reports:
Over the past few years, Los Angeles has been working to increase low-cost rent throughout the city to address the growing homelessness population. The city declared homelessness to be a state of emergency, with an estimated county homeless population of 47,000 people.
The 68,000-square-foot Bell Oasis complex will allow the Bell Shelter campus to offer facilities for people in all stages of housing transition such as crisis housing, transitional housing and, once completed, permanent supportive housing. The apartments will also have an on-site health clinic, employment services, an exercise room, gym, and community room. Residents of the apartments will be allowed to stay as long as they can pay rent. Residents will also have access to on-site case management and supportive services through referrals and partnerships with other organizations.
“The only reason we knew this project was going to happen was because there was the support of the community,” Salvation Army Lt. Col. Kyle Smith said. “None of us just woke up one day and had a whole lot of money. It didn’t fall from the sky. The Salvation Army is representative of the support of the community in which we are in.”
Smith added, “I’m excited about this and the lives that are going to be changed.”
At the ceremony, Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder challenged the idea that the 64 units will not make a sizeable difference in the fight against the rampant homelessness in Los Angeles County.
“The victories for which we fight in The Salvation Army happen one at a time,” said Hodder, as reported by the Chronicle. “Whenever a person comes off the street at night, it’s a victory. Whenever a hungry person receives a hot meal, it’s a victory…whenever one person has a roof over their head and can live with dignity and with hope, and a future, it’s a very big victory indeed.”
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church, according to its mission statement. “Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”