A lauded hygiene center in Skid Row is on the move. After months of uncertainty, a long-term home has been secured.
The Skid Row Community ReFresh Spot, which includes toilets, hand-washing stations, showers and laundry facilities, opened in December 2017 at 557 S. Crocker St. After some early ups and downs, the project operated by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles is open 24 hours a day and serves approximately 700 people daily.
Despite the success, the ReFresh Spot must move. It is on a lot owned by the neighboring Weingart Center, and the homeless services provider plans to build a residential tower for homeless and low-income individuals on the site. Although no groundbreaking date has been set, an effort to secure a new location has been in the works for months.
The ReFresh Spot is scheduled to remain open through the summer, and will then move to 544 Towne Ave., a surface lot owned by Maurice Moussavieh; the city is still negotiating the length of the lease, and will sublease the space to Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles.
The new space will open in the fall, according to the office of City Councilman José Huizar, whose 14th District covers Skid Row. The office said there will be a period when no facility operates, but expects that it “should be minimal.”
In a statement to Los Angeles Downtown News, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that finding a permanent home for the site is part of the city’s efforts to increase the resources available for homeless individuals on Skid Row.
“The expansion of the ReFresh Spot will offer bathrooms, showers, washers and dryers, and other valuable community services in this neighborhood,” Garcetti said in the statement. “Projects like this one show the difference we can make in people’s lives when we confront this crisis together.”
The ReFresh Spot opened as a response to the lack of toilets and other hygiene facilities in Skid Row. It currently has three trailers. There is full-time on-site staff. The annual operating budget varies, but is approximately $2 million. That will be revised after the move.
Going forward, the hygiene center will be funded in part through $20 million of state Homeless Emergency Aid Program money allocated to the city and dedicated specifically for Skid Row. HEAP funds will also cover efforts including installing boxes to collect needles and hazardous materials. One of those will be at the ReFresh Spot.
The new location will be larger than the current Crocker Street space, allowing for more facilities. According to Huizar’s office, plans call for expanding services.
“The ReFresh Spot has become an important resource to Skid Row and is part of the necessary emergency response to the crisis on the streets,” Huizar said in a prepared statement. “Securing a long-term location is critical to providing the basic hygiene everyone deserves — a hot shower, clean clothes, safe restrooms and a sense of dignity.”
Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles said the plans at the new location are being determined but will include more laundry facilities.