Since 1922, United Way of Greater Los Angeles has been working to unify the community and for the past decade, breaking the cycle of poverty in Los Angeles County. This week, we’re celebrating another big win towards ending homelessness in our communities.  

United Way of Greater Los Angeles leaders—including President and CEO Elise Buik and Director of Homeless Initiatives Chris Ko—worked together with L.A. Council President Herb Wesson and Korean community representatives over the construction of a proposed homeless shelter in Koreatown.

The new shelter—initially proposed for development on Vermont Avenue—stirred controversy among community members who did not feel adequately represented in the decision-making process. After months of talks, United Way of Greater Los Angeles helped to negotiate an agreement with Wesson and the Koreatown community representatives, ultimately looking toward a new site for the shelter several blocks east.

“United Way played a critical role—it was an honor to partner with them,” said Wesson in a KPCC Take Two interview last week. “What we started out with was maybe 65–75 temporary beds, and now we’re looking at an opportunity to have two or three permanent affordable housing areas within the region. So we wind up with a net win-win.”

The agreement has been so successful that the Los Angeles Times reported about its success, opening further supportive housing developments in the community.

“This is a far better solution than what was initially proposed,” Ko told the Times. “We started talking about one interim solution, and now we have three potential permanent supportive housing sites as well.”

Community engagement is vital in United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ mission to end homelessness, as noted by the L.A. Times editorial staff yesterday.

We coninue to work to change policy, distribute resources and empower individuals and families. More of our initiatives and information about how to get involved can be found at