New Homeless Shelter Opens in Anaheim

By Allison Economou

La Mesa Emergency, a new Anaheim homeless shelter, opened on Feb. 27 and is expected to house 52 women and 30 men in gender separated rooms. The shelter will also include two private spaces for families with children and another room that can hold up to four couples.

As a result of a 2018 court settlement over the removal of homeless people from the Santa Ana River Trail, Anaheim plans to open two new homeless shelters. Beginning on Mar. 6, 100 people will relocate from the 200-bed Anaheim Way Interim Shelter to the $3.95 million La Mesa Street building that the city bought in December 2018. The interim shelter, whose inadequate and over-exhausted sewage system frequently produced leaks from its portable showers and bathrooms, is set to close after three months in operation.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said Brenda Kachelmeyer, an incoming resident, about the blue walls and soft lighting inside the women’s dorm. She wants her bed to be near a glass door at one end of the room. Kachelmeyer has been living in her car with two dogs and a parrot for the last three months. Simple pleasures in the shelter make her happy, such as the USB port availability in every cubicle for charging cell phones.

The 12,000-square-foot property, which previously housed the Piano Empire Megastore warehouse and showroom, will accommodate 102 people. Bridges at Kraemer Place, a county-run homeless shelter, stand across from it. Because the shelter is also across from Taboo Gentleman’s Club and industrial company UDC Corporation., Illumination Plans, the shelter’s operator, intends to have staff monitor passage to and from the nearby kennels, dog run, picnic tables, and smoking area available to residents. Another amenity the shelter offers its residents is shuttling to stops near public transit so that those without transportation can easily get to work, job interviews and doctor appointments.

The new shelter will only be accepting referrals from Anaheim Police Department, the county Health Care Agency or the nonprofit City Net.

Along with the 224-bed Anaheim Emergency Shelter that opened in early February, La Mesa Emergency allows the city to enforce its anti-camping ordinance under the court settlement.