One woman’s quest to put unhoused neighbors into South LA’s empty buildings

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A homeless encampment on Venice Blvd. in Culver City. Many of these encampments are all over LA, and one woman is trying to get unhoused people off the streets by turning empty buildings in South LA into their new homes. Photo by Amy Ta.

Across LA, many offices, industrial warehouses, and strip mall units have been sitting empty as people are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rose Rios, founder of Cover the Homeless Ministry, is trying to turn empty buildings in South LA into homeless shelters

“Some of those buildings [have] been empty since I was a kid, and they [sic] still empty. And those buildings definitely can be used to house the homeless,” she says, noting one building in particular on the corner of Vernon Ave. and Avalon Blvd that she’d like to buy and convert into a shelter.

She adds that Councilman Curren Price plans to help because of his long dedication to the homelessness crisis, but she’s unsure how much financial backing she’ll receive. Meanwhile, there’s a GoFundMe campaign too. 

What keeps Rios going during her 50-plus years of working with unhoused residents? 

“My heart is made of glue,” she says. “It comes unglued when I see a problem, and when I do something about it, it glues back. So as long as I know I'm going to do something about it, it doesn't bother me.”



  • Rose Rios - Founder, Cover the Homeless Ministry