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SAMOSHEL to Get Major Makeover Before Permanent Replacement is Built
By Jorge Casuso
June 12, 2019 -- SAMOSHEL, the "temporary" tent-like homeless shelter that has stood near the end of the Santa Monica Freeway for 25 years, will get a major makeover before the City builds a permanent replacement.
The City Council on Tuesday voted on consent to provide $669,000 to The People Concern, the homeless services agency that operates SAMOSHEL, to renovate the facility that shelters some 70 people every night.
Although the City owns the structure and land it sits on, the agency will be in charge of hiring a contractor, since neither the City nor Public Works does major improvements to residential facilities, staff said.
The amount of the contract is based on three bids received for the proposed work, which ranged from $530,000 to $725,000.
"Substantive rehabilitation and improvements to the facility have not been made since its inception (except some kitchen upgrades 15 years ago), as it was not intended to remain in place permanently," staff wrote in its report.
The funding will be used to improve restroom and shower facilities, install new flooring and equipment in the kitchen facilities and improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Improvements also will be made to individual lockers, doors with electronic features and the outdoor awning and gate.
The improvements will be made as the City embarks on a "significant public process" to provide a permanent replacement for the shelter,
Staff estimates it will take between three and five years before a new permanent facility is built.
Erected in 1994, the sprung-tent structure dubbed SAMOSHEL was part of an effort to remove Santa Monica's highly visible homeless population from the city's streets.
In order to implement an emergency ordinance that cracked down on panhandling and sleeping in parks and other public spaces, the City was legally required to provide alternative accommodations.
But what started as a temporary shelter run by the Salvation Army, has stood for a quarter century and was taken over in 2005 by OPCC, which has since changed its name to The People Concern.
The Council's action Tuesday comes after City officials in March announced a plan to build a "reimagined SAMOSHEL (that) would not be another emergency shelter."
"Since 1994, the needs of residents placed in SAMOSHEL have become more complex requiring new design, smaller client-staff ratios, and flexibility to accommodate personal belongings, companion animals, and more," staff wrote in its report for the March 26 Council meeting.
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