Innovative Solutions to House People Living in Vehicles

(Left to Right) Dr. Scott Sale, Safe Parking LA; Nathaniel Williams, HOPICS; Lindsay Jo Garcia, St Joseph Center; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; Emily Kantrim, Safe Parking LA; Christian Riehl, St Joseph Center; Andre Baker, HOPICS. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive set of solutions to build on the success of an interagency effort that has already helped 59 people living in vehicles move into stable, affordable housing over the past year.

Authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, the motion called for expanding the use of public and private lots countywide to provide safe overnight parking to people living in vehicles, and for creating more sanitary conditions for them and nearby County residents.

Photo courtesy of Safe Parking LA by Hans Gutknecht / Los Angeles Daily News.

The motion also sought to curb the resale and reuse of dilapidated and unsafe vehicles where people had lived before finding housing, and directed the drafting of an ordinance to streamline the roles of public and private partners involved in complex issue. Finally, it called for establishing a pilot program to help the growing concentration of people living in vehicles in unincorporated West Rancho Dominguez, Rosewood and Willowbrook over the past decade.

“We need to keep the momentum going and scale up our efforts to help people move out of their vehicles and into affordable housing,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We are innovating. We are implementing. And we are appropriately legislating.”

Over the last year, the County has been working closely with street outreach teams staffed by experienced nonprofit homeless service providers such as HOPICS and St. Joseph Center, who go out into the streets every day to offer services to the homeless. To date, their hard work has resulted in 59 people move out of their cars and into affordable housing.

Testifying in support of the motion, HOPICS’ Andre Baker told the Board, “We would like to continue this project, as well as to innovate and implement new projects to reduce vehicle homelessness in the county.”

“The motion will solidify a continuous effort to go out to the voiceless, and be a beacon of light for the lost,” Christian Riehl of St. Joseph Center told the Board. “We will leave this world better than we found it – one person at a time.”

The motion also called for funding more safe parking options countywide. The County has been working with the nonprofit Safe Parking LA to provide safe parking at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Koreatown.

Safe Parking LA’s Scott Sale told the Board, “I wholeheartedly support this motion and especially applaud the directive to expand safe parking countywide. Our mission is simple. We want to end vehicular homelessness through private and public support because having to sleep in your car is not a crime.”

LA County Launches First-of-its-Kind Online Tool to Address Street Homelessness

A first-of-its-kind online tool is on its way to help address street homelessness in Los Angeles County.  This month, the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP. Funded by Measure H, the new mobile-friendly platform empowers members of the public, first responders and service providers to provide information on homeless persons on the street and request outreach.

“With just a few taps on a cell phone, LA-HOP makes it easier to request help for people experiencing homelessness on the streets of L.A. County,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This innovative tool will help us deploy our street outreach teams where they are most needed, so they can begin building relationships with our homeless neighbors and offer to connect them to services and housing.”

LA-HOP (la-hop.org) is a valuable new tool to get services to vulnerable residents living on the street. It makes it easier and more efficient for the public to request help and have it dispatched to connect homeless persons with outreach workers. The portal takes the guesswork out of figuring out geographic boundaries, by seamlessly routing requests and tracking the response. An outreach coordinator in each region serves as the “air traffic controller” for all requests and deploys the most appropriate outreach team, with the goal of reducing response times to those in need.

“This website is an important new addition to the many ways in which county, city, nonprofits and community leaders are working together to reduce homelessness,” said Board Chair Sheila Kuehl. “It gives the public a way to directly seek help for men, women and families experiencing homelessness. No single solution is a magic bullet, but each step we take gets us closer to our goal of making sure that every man, woman and child in L.A. County has a home.”

The Countywide movement to prevent and combat homelessness is constantly seeking new approaches to deliver what’s working more effectively. LA-HOP is designed to advance efforts to help people move from homelessness to housing by activating the general public to become part of the solution.

“LA-HOP provides a quick and easy way for residents to be a part of the solution to help combat homelessness by connecting homeless individuals to critical supportive services,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger.   “With this portal, we get real-time information about where homeless individuals are, allowing us to connect them to resources more quickly and efficiently.”

LA-HOP was designed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Health Agency and the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. Due to high demand, it may take a few days for an outreach team to be deployed; coordinators will prioritize those individuals who are most vulnerable. With nearly 40,000 people living on the streets of LA County, the need for outreach services is great.

“There are plenty of people in L.A. County who come across a person struggling with homelessness and don’t know what to do to get them help,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “LA-HOP is an innovative tool that makes it easy for the public to request help for people in need anywhere in L.A. County.  If this homelessness crisis has proven anything, it is that our county is full of compassionate, caring people and this online portal allows them to be part of the solution.”

“LA-HOP is a powerful tool to directly target resources and outreach to people experiencing homelessness,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “By efficiently routing support and empowering the public, this new Measure H-funded web portal will be an important part of our effort to quickly help the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Outreach teams responding to LA-HOP requests also conduct ongoing outreach all across the County. The portal does not replace homeless encampment reporting protocols established by the City of Los Angeles (my311), the County of Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.

New Affordable Apartments To Enhance Communities

Rendering of Florence Neighborhood Mobility Project, courtesy of AMCAL.

Los Angeles County has received a $30 million state grant to help build about 320 new affordable apartments in unincorporated areas, as well as a $10 million state grant to fund road improvements that will connect those new housing developments to mass transit and nearby community amenities.

A combined $20 million of the state grant to build affordable apartments was allocated to AMCAL’s Florence Neighborhood Mobility Project and LINC Housing’s Willowbrook II, both conveniently located near Metro train stations and parks in the Second District.

“These projects are a great example of public-private partnerships that seamlessly integrate high-quality affordable apartments with transportation and recreational amenities,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

Located adjacent to the Florence Blue Line Station, AMCAL’s Florence Neighborhood Mobility Project will have 109 affordable apartments, half of them for individuals and families at risk of homelessness.

It will also include a County-operated workforce development center on the first floor. An enhanced walking path will connect the project to the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Park.

LINC Housing’s Willowbrook II will include 100 affordable apartments and a daycare center. Located across the street from the Rosa Parks Blue and Green Line stations, the project will also feature upgrades to bicycle routes and improvements to nearby Mona Park.

“As numerous studies have shown, integrating housing and health care leads to better health outcomes, greater housing stability, and a significant reduction in the use of County resources,” LINC Housing’s chief operating officer, Suny Lay Chang, said. “We are extremely grateful to the Board of Supervisors for their continued and sustained support in addressing the housing shortage in Los Angeles County, particularly for our most vulnerable populations.”

Rendering of Willowbrook II courtesy of LINC Housing.

 

Home Ownership Made Affordable

Magnolia Walk Ribbon Cutting 2018. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / For the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the grand opening of model homes for Magnolia Walk, an affordable homeownership project in Willowbrook that is slated to welcome its first residents in October.

Kitchen at Magnolia Walk. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / For the Board of Supervisors.

Developed by The Olsen Company, Magnolia Walk will include 94 detached single-family homes, 30 of which are reserved for low- to moderate-income homebuyers who will receive down payment assistance from the Community Development Commission / Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA).

“There are few things more empowering and gratifying than the opportunity to own your home at a price that you can afford,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

Magnolia Walk Ribbon Cutting 2018. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / For the Board of Supervisors.

“We have committed $6 million to this development to ensure that 30 of the units can be sold to low- and moderate-income families,” he added. “That means that some of these homes will sell for as low as $80,000 – I’d say that’s a pretty good deal!”

CDC/HACoLA Executive Director Monique King-Viehland said, “The land we’re on was once vacant and undeveloped. Today, we celebrate the completion of the model units and soon, the completion of the first two phases. With our County continuing to address the local housing shortage, it is great to recognize those achieving the dream of homeownership.”

“Together, we intend to build Magnolia Walk as another shining example of what can be done when a public entity works hand-in-hand with a focused, private company to bring a dream to fruition” said Scott Laurie, President and CEO of The Olson Company.

Backyard at Magnolia Walk. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / For the Board of Supervisors.

Prices for the affordable homes will start at $80,000 while the market-rate homes will start at about $400,000. The project will offer two-story homes with 1,382 to 2,004 square feet of living space, each with a private rear yard and a two-car enclosed garage with traditional driveways. Each home will feature three to four bedrooms, two to three bathrooms, wall and attic insulation, “Cool Roof” rated tiles, a whole house ventilation cooling system, energy-efficient HVAC equipment, and hot water heaters. All homes are expected to be constructed by the end of 2019.

The architectural style of the homes is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. The development is designed to be a walkable community with an outdoor common area and direct access to Enterprise Park.

For more information on Magnolia Walk, visit www.magnoliawalkhomes.com.

Supportive Housing Takes Center Stage at Summit

CSH’s Deborah De Santis, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and United Way’s Elise Buik. Photo by Bryan Chan

More than 1,000 people gathered at the nation’s only summit on supportive housing and heard Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti talk about Los Angeles’ passage of ballot initiatives that will collectively raise an unprecedented $5 billion over a decade to address homelessness.

Since voters approved Measure H and Proposition HHH in late 2016 and early 2017, Los Angeles has become an epicenter of supportive housing activity. This prompted the Corporation for Supportive Housing to select Los Angeles as the host of its 2018 summit, which drew attendees from across the US, as well as Canada and New Zealand. The summit included several interactive sessions designed to encourage dialogue and an exchange of ideas.

During the plenary session, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, Mayor Garcetti, and United Way CEO Elise Buik participated in a panel entitled Leveraging Local Political Will to Create Supportive Housing.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “We simply seek to scale up our consciousness, our compassion, and our capacity to address homelessness.”

Buik said, “I don’t want to see anyone suffer on our streets. We are creating a movement of people who care deeply about this issue and are part of the solution.” Mayor Garcetti added, “We are here to end homelessness.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas championed Measure H, a quarter-cent Los Angeles County sales tax that seeks to end homelessness for 45,000 people in the first five years, and prevent homelessness for another 30,000 people. Mayor Garcetti championed Proposition HHH, a Los Angeles City bond measure that will finance the construction of 8,00 to 10,000 supportive housing units for the chronically homeless. United Way played a crucial role in the campaign to pass both ballot initiatives.

According to the 2018 Homeless Count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County has fallen for the first time in four years to 53,195 — a three percent decline.