Allowing individuals to have their pets with them is not something you see at every Los Angeles homeless shelter. An organization is taking a four-pronged approach to relocating the homeless.
“In the shelter system, they can’t do these things,” said Wanda Williams, director of interim housing at Urban Alchemy.
Williams is the interim housing director for the nonprofit organization that provides outreach services to two small residence villages and a secure campground in the city of Los Angeles. All three sites aim to allow homeless pets to stay with residents.
“It’s important because sometimes people get lost in the shelter system,” Williams said. “These pets sometimes provide emotional support to a lot of people.”
NBC4 first met Eric Lawry alive in his van near Echo Park in March. At the time, he was still addicted to drugs.
“It’s a long story because of drugs, but since I’ve been here I’ve been able to stay sober,” Lawry said.
These days, Lawry takes care of his dog PoPo and finds a reason to stay on the healing path.
“It helped me get my self-esteem back. You lose that, you lose everything,” Lawry said.
Dee Washington has been in one of these small villages for six months. When he lost his mom, he found a little dog who helped him.
“He’s just keeping me company man, this is my baby here,” Washington said.
Even the dog’s name is a daily reminder to fight for its future off the streets.
“Rocky Balboa, I just liked him, from the fighter, the prize fighter,” Washington said.
Other temporary accommodations such as pallet shelters may soon come online. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 971 earlier this month which aims to improve the supply of affordable rental housing that allows people with their pets.