Last Friday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $6.2 million loan to a non-profit housing organization so it can build a 36-unit apartment complex for the homeless and mentally ill near Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, much to the chagrin and surprise of community activists in that area.

“We hadn't heard anything about this (project) since 2008,” says Scott Crawford, a member of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council who's not speaking for that group. “There was no public notice whatsoever.”

Crawford and other concerned Silver Lake residents tried to put up a last-minute fight at the City Council meeting last Friday, but they were voted down.

The Eastsider – LA first reported about the controversial project last week. With the $6.2 million loan, A Community of Friends will turn an old apartment building on Vendome Street near Sunset Boulevard into a housing complex called the Vendome Palms for the homeless and mentally ill.

Back in 2008, says Crawford, residents told L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents the neighborhood where the project will be located, that they were against the proposal. At that point, things seemed to shut down.

Crawford and others have cited the fact that several other homeless facilities have been jammed into the neighborhood, the Sunset Boulevard location seems inappropriate for the homeless and mentally ill since there are nightclubs and a liquor store nearby, and community activists hoped to turn the old apartment building either into a housing center for gay and lesbian seniors or a much-needed parking lot.

Crawford says the loan for the Community of Friends project was “speed-tracked” through City Council within a month. “Normally, something like this takes six or eight months,” says the activist.

Crawford says he and other residents plan to continue their fight, with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council weighing its options in the coming days. The activist says the neighborhood council was never notified about the loan proposal by the city of Los Angeles or representatives of City Council President Eric Garcetti's office.

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LA Weekly