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Donald T. Sterling's Fake Homeless Center

In March, L.A. Weekly exposed billionaire and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s empty promise to build a homeless center in downtown L.A.’s Skid Row. For nearly two years, Sterling had been running large, unavoidably garish and misleading ads in the A section of the Los Angeles Times, suggesting that the so-called Donald T. Sterling Homeless Center would soon be constructed to help some of the city’s neediest citizens.

The only problem was that Sterling had taken no known steps to actually finance the $50 million project, instead asking a homeless-service provider on Skid Row to somehow pick up his costs. Nor had Sterling carried out several routine protocols that must be followed for any major social-services or construction project to be approved in Los Angeles. Instead, he touted his project in big display ads in the Times, even as he failed to begin any basic paperwork, seek to meet with city planning officials, or otherwise launch the first steps of getting the often-difficult approvals for such a project.

The Weekly published these facts in its cover story, “Donald T. Sterling’s Skid Row Mirage,” and several key sports Web sites picked up and publicized the embarrassing situation.

After the story ran, Sterling’s ads in the Times proclaiming that he was launching a homeless-center ceased for several months — until the billionaire rolled out another one in the Times in August. L.A. Weekly took him to task again, revealing his homeless center plans were still no more than talk. Alice Callaghan, an Episcopal nun who has worked on Skid Row for decades, said of Sterling, “The man is shameless.”

From “Donald T. Sterling’s Skid Row Mirage” by Patrick Range McDonald

These days, though, Sterling’s vow to help the homeless is looking more like a troubling, ego-inflating gimmick dreamed up by a very rich man with a peculiar public-relations sense: Witness his regular advertisements proclaiming another “humanitarian of the year” award — for himself. From homeless-services operators to local politicians, no one has received specifics for the proposed Sterling Homeless Center. They aren’t the least bit convinced that the project exists.


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