LANCASTER — The People Concern CEO John Maceri clarified confusion over an LA Metro bus that dropped off passengers at Kensington Campus on Monday.
Conflicting reports over how many passengers were on board the bus and why it brought people seemingly from out of the Antelope Valley to Lancaster prompted the City Council on Tuesday to postpone a vote to provide $150,000 for infrastructure improvements at Kensington Campus.
The People Concern provides on-site support services for Kensington Campus. Kensington Campus, at Avenue I and 32nd Street West, is an innovative project that provides permanent supportive housing and interim bridge housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. The facility welcomed its first permanent residents in November 2019.
“It is true that there was a bus,” Maceri said Thursday night in a telephone interview. “There were four individuals. There were referred from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.”
The individuals were in a Project Roomkey site in Los Angeles. Project Roomkey is a collaboration between LA Homeless Services Authority, Los Angeles County, and the state to secure hotel and motel rooms for people experiencing homelessness. The program provides a means for people who do not have a home to stay inside to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We were told that they all had previous connections to the Antelope Valley and wanted to return to the AV when beds were available,” Maceri said.
Interim beds at Kensington Campus became available Monday, so the LA Homeless Services Authority arranged for the Metro bus to transport the individuals.
“We, The People Concern, were not involved in arranging for the bus or transportation, or anything like that,” Maceri said.
A City of Lancaster staff member welcomed the bus, Maceri said.
City staff, along with Mayor R. Rex Parris, are working with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and looking into the situation that occurred earlier this week with the LA Metro bus and Kensington Campus, a spokesperson said Friday.
Twelve residents moved in to Kensington Campus on Monday. The facility has 156 interim housing beds. However, because of the ongoing pandemic, the facility cannot fill all of those interim housing beds.
“They’re temporarily being reduced because of public health requirements,” Maceri said.
The will be able to fill about 115 of those beds to start. There will be another push to fill the remaining available interim beds in the next couple of weeks. The interim housing beds are not time limited.
“The goal is to move people into permanent housing as quickly as possible, so it really depends on people’s situation when they come in,” Maceri said.
The first priority are residents of the High Desert Multi-Ambulatory Care Center at Avenue I and 60th Street West.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in March unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to ensure continued operation of the 24-hour emergency shelter through Oct. 31. However, that deadline could be extended because of the ongoing pandemic.
The People Concern has been working with Volunteers of America, which took over operation of the emergency shelter from the Salvation Army earlier this year, to refer people to Kensington. They have also worked with Valley Oasis, the coordinated entry system lead agency for the Antelope Valley, in partnership with L.A. Homeless Service.
“There were some referrals that were made that did not show on Monday,” Maceri said.
Maceri added Kensington Campus resources are for residents of the Antelope Valley, starting with Lancaster, Palmdale, and then the unincorporated areas.
“From The People Concern’s perspective there’s never been any confusion about that,” Maceri said.
There area three phases to Kensington Campus. There are 100 residents now in permanent supportive housing. Construction is underway now for the last 50 units of permanent supportive housing.