A report released this week by the Economic Roundtable predicts that job losses induced by the COVID-19 pandemic will lead a dramatic increase in homelessness in Los Angeles County over the next three years. Faced with that dire forecast, a new series of proposals introduced this week by members of the Los Angeles City Council seek to confront the problem.
The series of motions, packaged together under the campaign "A Way Home," were introduced by newly-instituted 14th District Councilmember Kevin de León, the former president pro tempore of the California State Senate who is rumored to be considering a run for Mayor of Los Angeles in 2022. The proposals were co-sponsored by multiple Councilmembers, including Nithya Raman, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Monica Rodriguez, Mitch O'Farrell, Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin, and Curren Price.
“Sadly, our great city has lacked what I call a ‘Northstar,’ a clearly defined objective, and a timeline for achieving that objective. By introducing a comprehensive plan, we are providing away for the people we represent to hold us accountable for delivering results,” said de León in a press release. “Our Northstar must be a goal around which everyone - city, county, state, and federal partners - will organize and work to achieve. That is why today, I am introducing ‘A Way Home’ – a plan that unites all of us around a common objective: building a path to ending the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.”
The signature proposal calls for the City of Los Angeles to set a goal of building 25,000 new homeless housing units by the year 2025, without specifying whether those be shelter units or permanent supportive housing. In setting that target, de León cites data from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority which found a need for approximately 45,941 residential units to functionally end homelessness in the City - far more than the less than 24,539 units currently available.
The other motions include:
- a request for a report on underutilized city-owned properties, and the feasibility of using them for temporary or permanent supportive housing;
- a request for a City Attorney report on the possibility of withdrawing funding for Measure HHH project that have not yet broken ground or lack loan agreements with the City;
- a request for a report on the cost and status of each Measure HHH-funded project;
- a request for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to develop metrics to determine the suitability for hotels or motels to be converted to homeless housing;
- the development of standard plans for modular multifamily homeless and affordable housing, bungalow courts, and accessory dwelling units;
- the development of an expedited permitting process which would establish a maximum review per submittal time of 15 business days for affordable and supportive housing projects; and
- the creation of new design standards for shelter facilities that to speed construction times and reduce project costs.
Several of the proposals - specifically those pertaining to Measure HHH projects - build upon reports issued by Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin's office, which have found that the climbing construction costs of new permanent supportive housing developments will likely prevent the $1.2-billion bond measure from producing the 10,000 apartments promised to voters in 2016.
In a separate batch of motions, City Council President Nury Martinez has proposed a renewal of Los Angeles' $100-million renter relief program, which was launched last summer. Per a news release from Martinez's office, the program has provided $2,000 subsides to more than 49,000 low-income households.
“I have said all along that the City and municipalities throughout the country need substantial and ongoing renters and mortgage relief from the federal government during this devastating pandemic, and I call on the Biden Administration and the new Congress to take transformative action soon,” said Martinez. “The success of our renters’ assistance program, the largest renters’ assistance program in the nation, is a strong indication that much more help is needed. The motion that I will introduce Tuesday aims to expand and continue our program with the funds we will soon have available to us.”