Just up the freeway from Disneyland, in the Orange County city of Buena
Park, Calif., Paul Leon stood outside the beat-up remnant of a seedy motel.
Above him, a faded pink sign advertised the Coral Motel, whose rooms back
in its prime cost 35 bucks a night.
Victor Ramirez, 61, uses his ventilator at the men's dorm at the Illumination
Foundation Recuperative Care in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Feb. 12. The
Guatemalan native became homeless after he lost his job at a car wash
in Los Angeles.
"This particular motel was going to be taken back by the city of Buena
Park, because of the drugs, alcohol, prostitution," Leon explained.
But Leon, chief executive of the Irvine, Calif.-based Illumination Foundation,
a homeless services nonprofit, had a different idea. He proposed turning
the motel lobby into a triage center and converting the rooms into clean
recovery facilities for homeless people recently discharged from the hospital.
And that's what he did.
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