Is Affordable Housing Happening?

ARE FUNDS RAISED THROUGH PROPOSTIONS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING, WORKING?

P
eople living on the street are visible everywhere, and the situation is only getting worse. Recently, the City and County of Los Angeles have taken extra steps toward fighting the issue of homelessness, a problem that has been growing for more than a decade and, unfortunately, growing exponentially in the past few years. It will take patience and persistence to bring the homelessness crisis under control. 

Aug19YOOAccording to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the City of Los Angeles witnessed a 16% rise in its homeless population in 2019. As gentrification projects continued to replace low-cost housing with expensive apartment complexes, more than 9,000 people became homeless for the first time in the past year.

Angelenos have a heart; we voted to tax ourselves to help these people who are down on their luck. A few years have gone by since the passage of Proposition HHH and Measure H. Let us look at how our city has managed thus far, with a progress update. 

Approved by voters in 2016, Proposition HHH is a $1.2 billion bond measure designed to build 10,000 units of supportive housing within ten years. Over three-quarters of the City of Los Angeles voted for the measure, hoping that it might be the change needed to reverse the rising trend of homelessness. 

However, by the end of 2018, not a single HHH unit had been completed. The City is running behind on its goal, and with rising construction costs, the future of HHH is looking dim.

In March 2017, voters passed Measure H to combat homelessness by providing services to the homeless by raising approximately $355 million each year for the next ten years. According to the most recent quarterly report, this LA County initiative is an effort to provide resources and services in order to “improve the lives of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.” In the past two years, Measure H has already done a lot of good. According to data from the County of Los Angeles, 2,471 individuals found permanent housing under Measure H’s Permanent Supportive Housing Program. Additionally, the emergency shelter funded by Measure H helped nearly 15,000 people move into temporary housing within the first nine months of the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Although Measure H has helped, the fact is Measure HHH cannot provide enough affordable housing when each permanent unit costs $525,000 per Controller Ron Galperin’s just-released audit and there are more than 30,000 homeless and counting.  

In CD10 gentrification has begun to populate once affordable neighborhoods with pricey condos and luxury apartments. Savvy landlords who realize they can get more rent, conspire to push families and individuals, out of their homes and into the streets or they are forced to move long distances from communities they have roots in. The City of L.A. is failing to build units fast enough that are actually affordable for working people. Not everyone can afford to live in a $2,600 studio apartment.   Except perhaps the young workers who will be populating the large corporations moving into Culver City and looking for charming neighborhoods close to work.  

The City is striving to meet the needs of those who are already homeless but we need immediate temporary housing solutions along with new affordable housing units, and we need a lot of them.The numbers make it clear. Measure H has helped 470 families, and 533 individuals remain in their homes in the past year, but more than 9,000 new people became homeless in the past year and we can only expect the rate of homelessness to increase and continue along its current trend. We can’t keep building new homeless shelters and we can't build enough affordable housing fast enough. 

According to a 2016 study by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, “Los Angeles is now the most unaffordable rental market in the country.” For housing to be considered affordable, a family should spend roughly 30% of its monthly income on rent, but the rent in Los Angeles is simply too high for the average earner to afford. We need to pass legislation that will stabilize rent levels. It costs less to keep families in their homes than to help them find new ones once they’ve already become homeless. The City needs to protect its renters. That means passing laws that make it illegal to charge unconscionably high rent, as well as expanding the umbrella of the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance to protect families and individuals from unjust rent increases.

The 64-unit Senior Homeless housing that is going up next to my house located at Washington Blvd and Gramercy Place is a showcase of something that the City of LA got right.  This permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals did it the right way. The corporation that came in to build this housing complex got input and feedback from the neighbors and business owners, went through the local United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council land use committee, and received approval from the committee and UNNC Board.  It took a couple of years to get it right, but there was no push back. I believe that the community members understood the good that this housing project hoped to accomplish and people wanted to invest in their community to help some of the most vulnerable among us. Many might argue against having a project such as this one enter their neighborhoods, but I know the people of L.A. are strongest when they band together to help each other. 


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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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