LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to issue a series of bonds totaling $300 million that will finance the construction of housing for the homeless.
Council members unanimously authorized the city administrative officer to issue the bonds out of voter-approved tax funding for 24 housing projects. The bonds will also finance construction and repairs at 22 facilities around the city that provide services to the homeless.
In November 2016, voters passed Proposition HHH, opting to raise their own property taxes to support the homeless. Prop HHH is expected to raise $1.2 billion in bonds for the construction of what city leaders have said will be at least 10,000 housing units for homeless residents.
One of the 24 housing projects approved Wednesday, the Depot at Hyde Park in South LA, will receive $7.2 million in funds. The building will include 43 units of housing, 25 of which will be for homeless residents. A retail space on the ground floor will house a job training center for survivors of domestic violence.
Under the terms of a city ordinance, housing projects approved for Prop HHH financing must commit 50 percent of their units as permanent supportive housing for the homeless and half of those units for those who are chronically homeless, according to a report by the city administrative officer.
The money is also approved to assist families that are in danger of becoming homeless and to provide housing to seniors, veterans and battered women and their children, as well as to fund facilities where the disadvantaged can access mental health care and substance abuse treatment.
Issuance of Wednesday’s bonds is expected to cost the city debt service payments estimated at $19 million over the next 20 years.
The city still has over $1 billion in unissued Prop HHH bond authorization remaining, according to the city report.
The next fiscal year will be the first full year utilizing Prop HHH funding.
On May 29, council members approved using $239 million to finance construction of 24 projects that will create 1,517 units of housing for homeless residents, most of which include social services and health services. Almost 250 units were designated under the market rate.
Construction on all projects will begin within one year.
Council members also passed a resolution May 29 in support of SB 912 – introduced by state Senators Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – which would allocate $2 billion in one-time grants for cities, counties and nonprofits to immediately house the homeless and low-income families at risk of homelessness.
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 people in any state at 68 percent, according to a California State Auditor report issued last month.
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.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has asked Brown to increase that amount to $1.5 billion.
The Legislature must pass its budget by June 15th.
The City of Laguna Beach is also stepping up to the plate to address homelessness, announcing Wednesday it will improve its homeless programs and facilities as part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
The settlement, filed Wednesday in Santa Ana federal court, resolves a 2015 class action lawsuit by the ACLU Foundation on behalf of people living with disabilities.
The ACLU said people showing symptoms of mental illness are often refused shelter.
Under the settlement, anyone turned away by shelter staff can appeal to a Laguna Beach city employee. The agreement also requires the city to provide wheelchair lifts in the city’s shuttle van and cots instead of floor mats for people who need them.
“This settlement is about ensuring that our most vulnerable and disabled community members have equal access to basic resources, like shelter from the elements, which every person needs for survival,” Peter Eliasberg, chief counsel at ACLU SoCal, said in a statement. “Moreover, they are entitled to such access under the law.”