County supervisors move ahead with plan to reuse County General Hospital as housing

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The 1930s-era Los Angeles County General Hospital that rises 19 stories above the northern edge of Boyle Heights has sat largely unused since 2008.

Now County Supervisor Hilda Solis is pressing for its reuse as housing for “high-need populations,” including homeless residents and low-income tenants.

Solis has authored a motion that, if approved, would have the Board of Supervisors order a study exploring whether converting the old hospital buildings, which measure an impressive 1.5 million square feet, is possible. The study would also look at potential funding sources for the conversion.

“Given the county’s tremendous need for homeless, low income, and high-need population residential options,” the motion reads, the hospital could be put to use “by providing a number of residential units and related services for future residents and the broader county community.”

The old hospital is surrounded by the newer LA County and USC Medical Center facilities, which opened about 10 years ago.

A circa-1937 photo of the hospital.
Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

Completed in 1933, the Art Deco buildings were featured in exterior shots and the opening sequence of the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital. The hospital features interior murals by Hugo Ballin, whose work also appears in the Central Library and the Los Angeles Times building in Civic Center.

The hospital is “notable for its relationship to the Chicano Movement of the 1970s and community organizing in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s,” says the Los Angeles Conservancy.

General Hospital was also the site of more than 200 forced sterilizations on women from the local community, carried out by hospital doctors in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The board of supervisors officially apologized for these sterilizations in August.

Solis’s motion asks the county chief executive officer to prepare the report and return to the board by fall 2019.

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