The rising costs of Measure HHH permanent supportive housing developments continue to hinder Los Angeles' efforts to reduce homelessness, according to a new report issued by City Controller Ron Galperin.
“Nearly four years after voters approved spending a billion plus dollars to reduce homelessness, only three new housing projects are open and most won’t begin welcoming homeless Angelenos for two, three or even four more years,” said Galperin in a news release. “Meanwhile, the crisis has gotten far worse, compounded by pressing COVID-19 health and safety concerns. To truly reduce homelessness as L.A. voters intended, the City must meet the moment by pivoting to an action plan that will house more people right away. We cannot stay the course when people are dying every day on our streets.”
Passed by Los Angeles voters in 2016, Measure HHH approved $1.2 billion in bond funding for the construction of new permanent supportive housing citywide. In pitching the ballot initiative, city officials hoped to generate up to 10,000 new homes as a result of the infusion of new funds.
However, the amount of housing generated by Measure HHH will likely fall far below that total, due in large part to rising construction costs. According to report, the average cost of an HHH project has increased from $507,000 per unit in 2019 to almost $559,000 in 2020 (with a median cost of $531,000). Roughly one-third of these projects cost more than $600,000 per unit, with the price tag for the most expensive developments ranging as high as $746,000 per unit.
Delays have contributed to the rising costs for Measure HHH projects, according to Galperin, with projects currently proceeding on three-to-six-year timelines, and many developers requesting extensions of up to one year. The report estimates that 80 percent of Measure HHH units will not open until 2022 or later.
To date, three Measure HHH projects have been completed consisting of 179 supportive housing units and 49 general affordable housing units. More than 5,500 additional units are now in development, but more than 73 percent of those have yet to break ground.
These setbacks come as homelessness continues to increase in Los Angeles - with an estimated 41,000 residents living without a roof over their heads and thousands more at risk of homelessness due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
The Controller's report recommends that the remaining $30-million in HHH funds should be put toward lower-cost projects - such as those planned as part of the Measure HHH Housing Challenge - and also urges officials to focus on more interim housing facilities and adaptive reuse projects, which are cheaper than ground-up developments.
Click here for a look at the report and an interactive map of the 111 Measure HHH projects.