Owner Izek Shomof wants to turn the historic Sears building in Boyle Heights into a ‘life reconstruction center’ for the homeless
The historic building dates back to the 1920s and has become a staple of Olympic Boulevard for the community. It closed permanently in 2021, but now building owner Izek Shomof says he has big plans for the 26-acre campus, turning it into what he calls a life reconstruction center for the homeless.
“What we are proposing to do is not close to shelter,” said Shomof Group founder Izek Shomof. “What we’re proposing to do here is bring in people whose lives are broken.”
Shomof says the center will open in three phases. The goal is to house 5,500 people, bring in nonprofits, and include services like a medical clinic, mental health support, and job training.
“We think it’s time to put an end to it and solve the problem of homelessness,” Shomof said. “The solution we have and the receipt we have here is to get them here and rebuild their lives.”
CleanCity consultant Bill Toarmina, who is working with Shomof on the project, says they are successfully operating a similar but much smaller project in Orange County.
“The approach is Boyle Heights first. Let’s help Boyle Heights in many ways, helping them with homelessness, helping their business community get revived and then looking county-wide” , said Toaramina.
The price of the plan is around $400 million, which Somof says his family would pay. The plan is to lease the finished complex to the City of Los Angeles for around $23 million a year. They also propose obtaining government funding to pay for operating costs, which are estimated to be around $80 million per year.
“I welcome people who want to work productively to resolve this humanitarian crisis and get people housed as quickly as possible. This is a gargantuan problem that requires everyone to be on deck to solve it. , so I’m open to any solutions that can address the suffering we see with the homeless,” Los Angeles City Council member Kevin De León said in a statement.
Many residents across the street from the site have mixed feelings about the project, but generally agree they want people off the street.
“It’s a good decision for these people not to live on the streets anymore,” said Juan Cueva. “For me, it’s a good decision.”
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