LA City Council Approves $276 Million for Homeless Housing

LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan Tuesday to spend voter-approved tax revenue to build housing with social services for homeless residents and endorsed state legislation that would funnel $2 billion to cities to immediately house the homeless.

In a 15-0 vote, council members approved using $239 million to finance construction of 24 projects that will create 1,517 units of housing for homeless residents, 1,242 of which come with social services and health services attached to them. 248 units are designated as affordable under the market rate, according to a city report.

The funds are generated from Proposition HHH, which Los Angeles voters approved in November 2017. The voter-endorsed tax is expected to raise $1.2 billion in bonds for the construction of 10,000 housing units.

Four of the approved projects named in a report by the city’s administrative officer Richard Llewellyn are the West Third Apartments Preservation, Western Avenue Apartments, Broadway Apartments and Apartments at 68th and Main Street.

Construction on all projects will begin within one year.

Council members also authorized the city’s Housing and Community Investment Development Department to negotiate loans, covenant agreements, and other documents connected to the Proposition HHH construction loan program.

City Attorney Mike Feuer must approve all borrowers in the program, according to the resolution.

An additional $37 million was approved for staffing, job training and environmental impact studies for both city-run and privately-run social service and housing projects for the homeless.

The St. John’s Well Child and Family Center wellness clinic and Ruth’s Place homeless shelter will each receive $3.5 million.

The city’s Sherman Way Center and Women’s Bridge Housing shelter will receive a total of $4.5 million.

Council members also passed a resolution Tuesday in support of SB 912 – introduced by Sens. Jim Beall and Nancy Skinner – which would allocate $2 billion in one-time grants for cities, counties and non-profits to immediately house the homeless and low-income families at risk of homelessness.

$1 billion would be allocated toward new construction, home rehabilitation and preservation of housing for people with incomes up to 60 percent of the area median income.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development stated there is a 3.5 million unit shortage in housing for the lowest income households, according to the resolution.

The remaining $1 billion would be allocated as one-time grants to cities and counties for housing construction and shelters for homeless individuals and families.

The city has worked closely with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to address the lack of shelter space and permanent housing for homeless residents in the city and county.

Supervisors voted May 15 to spend $402 million in Measure H revenue on housing and health services for homeless residents and families.

The one-quarter cent sales tax was approved by LA County voters in 2017 and is projected to raise $355 million annually for 10 years for housing projects for the homeless.

California leads the nation with both the highest number of people experiencing homelessness – about 134,000, or 24 percent of the nation’s total – and the highest proportion of unsheltered homeless persons of any state at 68 percent, according to a California State Auditor report issued last month.

Cities across the state are spending money from their own general funds and voter-approved ballot measures to provide shelter and services for their growing homeless populations, but find those aren’t enough.

In his May budget revision, Governor Brown proposed spending $359 million of the state’s $8.8 billion surplus on one-time funding to address homelessness.

Of that funding, $250 million would be reserved for a new program which would provide block grants to cities and counties that have declared a shelter crisis.

In a prepared statement Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asked the governor to increase that amount to $1.5 billion.

Garcetti said $357 million of that would go to shelters, mobile hygiene centers and construction of housing for the homeless in Los Angeles.

“Los Angeles has put its local dollars on the line to pull people from the grips of homelessness – and now it’s time for Sacramento to do the same,” Garcetti said. “We need even more funding to shelter our homeless neighbors today. If the state comes through, we would have a clear path to housing for every unsheltered Angeleno.”

On Wednesday, the state’s Budget Conference Committee will begin carving up the final state budget for next year, including funding for services, shelters and housing for homeless residents.

A budget must be passed by the Legislature by June 15th.

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