Shelter Abuse in Los Angeles

Poverty Matters in the News 

L.A. Weekly - April 17, 2014

Do you ever wonder why someone who is homeless may be reluctant to go to a shelter, or simply cannot get in?

For the past six years, Poverty Matters has received complaints from clients regarding abuse and mistreatment at a local shetler in Los Angeles.  Working with shelter residents and an employee whistleblower, our organization was able to document several instances of mistreatment and neglect. 

In 2013, our organization provided documentation delineating the problems at the shelter to the West Hollywood City Council, a major municipal funder.   We also met with Shelter executives to ensure they were aware of the problems and working on solutions.

Please read the L.A. Weekly article below which highlights many of the issues shelter residents continue to encounter in the City of Los Angeles. 



Disabled Senior Facing Homelessness will be Home for the Holidays…

Los Angeles –   Cheryl , a disabled senior citizen, called Poverty Matters just four days from eviction.   For 15 years she had rented a room in a house for herself and a caregiver. When a Credit Union foreclosed on her landlord, she was told she must leave.

Cheryl’s situation looked hopeless.  She had little money and no place to move.  Social Security was her only source of income, and with medical bills, food costs, and other expenses she couldn’t afford a market rate apartment in Los Angeles.  What’s more, low income senior housing had estimated wait lists of over 6 years. 

Cheryl was planning to move onto the street when a friend suggested she call Poverty Matters.

We immediately gave Cheryl some good news.  She didn’t have to move.  Protected under the City of Los Angeles tenant protection at foreclosure ordinance,  Cheryl  had a right to stay in the house, provided she continued to pay her rent.  

Unfortunately, the Credit Union’s anti-tenant attorney decided to ignore the law. Despite our advising them of Cheryl’s rights as a tenant, they continued to seek eviction.    Poverty Matters contacted the Los Angeles Housing Department and they sent the Credit Union repeated notices to rescind the eviction.

In a last ditch attempt to skirt the law, the Credit Union tried to reclassify Cheryl as a “lodger” rather than a tenant, a tactic increasingly used by financial institutions to circumvent tenant’s rights. That’s when we found Cheryl an attorney at Bet Tzedeck Legal Services in Los Angeles.  Bet Tzedeck  took the case to court and we WON. The court recognized Cheryl’s tenancy and the Credit Union was forced to rescind the eviction! 

As long as the property was owned by the Credit Union, Cheryl could stay.  But, if they sold the property, Cheryl would eventually have to leave.

Realizing we were on borrowed time, we continued to look for low income senior housing.  And, after driving around various neighborhoods, we found it!  A newly constructed senior housing complex was taking new applications!

Cheryl moved into her new, low income senior apartment this past weekend, just in time for the holidays!  And, she has two bedrooms, one for herself and one for her caregiver.

As for the credit union, they were forced to pay Cheryl settlement money for relocation fees. They also fired their anti-tenant attorney.

What’s more, Poverty Matters helped  Cheryl apply for Medi-Cal to help lower her medical expenses and In Home Supportive Services (a government program to defray caregiver costs)  to help lower her monthly expenses.

There are more people like Cheryl out there, some of whom have already slipped into homelessness without the help of an advocate. 

At Poverty Matters, we go the extra mile to ensure that homeless and low income individuals get the best outcome possible. 

Please donate to Poverty Matters today, so that we can continue this critical work.