Skid Row is home to one of the largest homeless populations in the United States. (Luke Netzley/Staff)

At the end of a year that saw LA County’s homelessness count pass 69,000 people, Councilmember Kevin de León has secured $47.5 million in a state infrastructure grant for Skid Row, the largest of its kind in the community’s history. This Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant will help fund a bicycle connectivity and pedestrian safety program as well as improvements for corridors along San Pedro Street, Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Eighth Street, Ninth Street,11th Street and 16th Street.

“When I was first elected to Council District 14, I made a commitment to improve the human condition of those living in the poorest and most overlooked community in all of Los Angeles — Skid Row,” de León said. “This is a community that is ground zero for homelessness and poverty in our city, a vulnerable community that has faced decades of broken promises. This grant is one of many ways I’m delivering for my constituents, those who need help the most, giving them the dignity and respect they deserve by providing them with a safer neighborhood.”  

In June 2022, de León allocated $250,000 of Council District discretionary funds to hire a team in partnership with the Bureau of Street Services, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) and Webb Engineering to apply for the California Transportation Commission (CTC)’s ATP funding. The CTC approved the funding in December.

Of the total $47.5 million, $38.599 million will come from state funds while $8.967 million will be a local match from the city. The project, set to be implemented and managed by the Bureau of Street Services, was secured to help improve the lives of Skid Row residents while meeting the city’s greenhouse gas reduction goals by creating over 2.4 miles of bicycle infrastructure and installing 20 bike storage racks, 10 bike storage lockers, two bike share stations and two e-bike charging stations.

Inspired in part by the guiding principles of the Our Skid Row plan, a resident-driven effort to improve the community, the plan for the ATP grant’s improvements also includes the planting of over 500 new trees and the installation of over 540 pedestrian lights, which, compared to standard 35-foot streetlights, are 15 feet tall and designed to illuminate sidewalks instead of roads.

“My goal was to deliver what the Skid Row community had been demanding for decades,” de León said. “It was an opportunity to leverage state and city dollars to begin a transformation in a community like Skid Row.”

The program will also build a new public plaza at Eighth Street and San Pedro with benches, lighting and hydration stations, along with 27,000 square feet of reconstructed sidewalks, 57 enhanced crosswalks, four pedestrian beacons, 43 new curb extensions and 76 curb ramps. It’ll also widen sidewalks in the Pinata District and create new bicycle connections from San Pedro to nearby bike facilities.

“My intention for Skid Row and the surrounding communities is to bring transformative change that gives people the second chance they need at life,” de León explained. “Your ZIP code shouldn’t define the quality of your neighborhood.”

“I am grateful that the council office created a vision for a revitalized Skid Row and for securing the resources necessary to make that vision into a reality,” said Pastor Troy Vaughn, president and CEO of the LA Mission. “This investment will help transform not only the neighborhood, but it will create a better environment for those living on our streets and seeking to rebuild their own lives.”