This story has been updated with comments from Supervisor Janice Hahn's office.
DOWNEY – DOWNEY – L.A. County is considering a proposal to house up to 165 homeless people in Downey while they recuperate from hospitalization.
The facility would be located in Building 900 at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.
“Options are limited for homeless individuals who are recuperating from hospitalization,” Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote in motion asking for the plan’s approval by the County Board of Supervisors. “Typically, when a patient no longer needs acute care but is still recovering from an illness or injury, they are discharged home to rest and may receive follow-up care as an outpatient. Homeless individuals, however, end up staying in the hospital for a much longer period of time than necessary.”
L.A. County has opened 432 recuperative beds as of December 2017, but the Department of Health Services estimates that approximately 10 homeless people a day are discharged from hospitals that could benefit from recuperative care.
“Creating more recuperative beds for our homeless individuals is crucial to ending the cycle of costly and repeated emergency room visits and prolonged inpatient days,” Hahn wrote.
While recuperating, social workers will help place patients in more permanent housing, said Nick Ippolito, Hahn’s chief of staff.
“We’re talking about apartments, supportive housing and, if necessary if they have more serious issues, maybe like an acute center,” Ippolito said. “They’re not going to wheel them out to Imperial Highway and say, ‘Good luck.’”
“It’s not a shelter,” Ippolito added. “This is a robust facility where they will receive the appropriate medical attention they need and address the root causes of their homelessness.”
Opening the facility at Rancho will require estimated upfront costs of about $10-$12 million, plus $2-$3 million annually to operate.
A patient’s average length of stay in the county’s other recuperative facilities is 45 days, said Liz Odendahl, the supervisor’s communications director.
"There is a vicious cycle that exists for too many people experiencing homelessness. They go from sleeping on the streets, to sleeping in a hospital bed, and back on the streets again. The idea behind these recuperative care beds is not only give these people a place to recover with medical care, but also connect them with County social workers who will help them put their lives back together and get them into permanent housing."