Report critiques city’s inefficient use of supportive housing funds
Efforts to address homelessness in Los Angeles with voter-approved funds are being hindered by red tape and high costs, according to a report by the city controller. Proposition HHH was approved in 2016 and is funding a supportive housing development on Wilshire Boulevard by the West LA Veteran Affairs Medical Center. (Daniel Leibowitz/Daily Bruin staff)
Oct. 16, 2019 12:19 a.m.
Red tape and high costs have hindered Los Angeles’ efforts to effectively address homelessness with voter-approved funds, according to a report released Oct. 8 by the city controller’s office.
Proposition HHH, a bond program to fund the development of supportive housing for homeless people in Los Angeles over 10 years, was approved by voters in 2016. If all the planned projects are completed, the proposition is expected to provide 5,873 supportive housing units out of 7,640 total residential units, according to the report, written by City Controller Ron Galperin.
The program is primarily constructing supportive housing – affordable units that are complemented by social services, such as mental and physical health services, education and job training and substance abuse treatment.
Since 2016, only 19 projects have begun construction and none of them have been completed. Meanwhile, homelessness in LA has increased 30% since the proposition was approved, according to a press release from the city controller’s office.
The nearest construction project to UCLA with supportive housing units will be located on Wilshire Boulevard by the West LA Veteran Affairs Medical Center. That project began construction Sept. 10 and is expected to complete 66 supportive housing units by March 26, 2021, according to a map of projects compiled by the city controller’s office.
Another supportive housing project is planned for 11010 Santa Monica Blvd. and is expected to finish construction on 51 units by April 2021.
While there has been a reported rise in homelessness across the city, Westwood saw a decrease from 153 unsheltered and 80 sheltered individuals to 142 unsheltered and 0 sheltered individuals between 2018 and 2019, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority’s 2019 Homeless Count.
Galperin called on the city to direct proposition HHH funds toward cheaper projects. The report recommends the city reconsider projects dependent on additional funding and regulation compliance, especially those that significantly exceed original cost projections.
The city estimated each studio or one bedroom unit would cost $350,000 and each two bedroom unit would cost $414,000. However, the median cost of these projects across the city is now $531,373, with some project costs exceeding $600,000, according to the report.
A single supportive housing unit will be about $567,081 for the Wilshire Boulevard project and around $391,039 for the Santa Monica Boulevard project, according to the map.
Most of these projects will take about three to six years to complete once they are started, according to the report. To address more immediate concerns, the report also recommends the city fund shelters, bridge housing, clinics and storage for homeless individuals.
Galperin’s report also advised the city to make the permitting process more efficient by increasing staff and creating a centralized accounting authority for proposition HHH funds.