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.

County’s Multi-Pronged Affordable Housing Strategy Yields 3,300 New Affordable Apartments

By putting in a down payment of $182 million, Los Angeles County has leveraged $1.7 billion in public and private funds towards the construction of 3,362 affordable apartments over the last five years, two-thirds of which were reserved for people struggling with homelessness, mental illness and physical disabilities.

According to a report by the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA), every dollar put in by the County over the last five years has been matched sixfold by public and private funders. Encouraged by this success, the County is ramping up its investment in building and preserving affordable apartments.

Tiki Apartments. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

“Since last year, Los Angeles County has tripled its investment in affordable apartments to $90 million, providing desperately needed help to many of our neighbors struggling with homelessness,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Given the magnitude of the crisis, we must continue to scale up our response and use every tool at our disposal, from financial incentives and streamlined entitlements to creative policymaking.”

“As The Bible says, ‘where there is no vision the people perish,’ and I am very proud that the Board of Supervisors has had the vision to make a significant new investment in affordable housing and are beginning to see the results,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, chair of the Board. “Our homeless crisis is fed by our affordable housing crisis, and so the County has embarked on addressing the homeless/affordable housing crisis in many ways. We have not solved the problem yet, but every time we house 1,000 people, that’s 1,000 more people who are stably housed and not on the street or at risk of falling into homelessness. Today’s report reflects visionary and innovative work and we will continue this work until we solve our housing problems.”

Athens Vistas Groundbreaking Ceremony. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

As one of the largest public housing authorities in the country, CDC/HACoLA also helped house 21,000 low-income households through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program; 1,418 special needs households through the Continuum of Care Program, which primarily serves people who are homeless, or struggling with mental health issues and/or physical disabilities; and 1,754 veterans in households through Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers. From program inception to date, through Measure H, the County’s Homeless Incentive Program has helped 850 formerly homeless individuals, families and veterans find housing by providing incentives to landlords.

Architectural model of Skid Row Housing Trust development. Photo by Henry Salazar/Board of Supervisors.

“Through initiatives both large and small, we are helping to close the 568,000-unit gap in affordable housing and bring people home through preservation and development,” Monique King-Viehland, Executive Director of CDC/HACoLA, shared. “And as a County of our size, we need big initiatives so that people go home.”

Additionally, homeowner programs, administered by the CDC/HACoLA, have assisted 171 homeowners throughout the County and provided more than $41 million in funding to facilitate homeownership countywide, with an emphasis on low- to moderate-income households, in Fiscal Year 2017-18. In the same time frame, the County has provided $4.6 million in preservation services to more than 200 low- to moderate-income households, primarily seniors, through a variety of homeownership improvement strategies.

CDC/HACoLA, in coordination with the County Chief Executive Office, reported on the status of affordable housing preservation and development at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

GETTING EVERYONE IN_A Snapshort of Supportive Housing_June 2018(2)

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas poses with residents of LINC Housing’s Mosaic Gardens at Willowbrook. Photo by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

2018 Homeless Count Declines for the First Time in Four Years

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks during the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count press conference at a construction site where the nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) is building supportive housing funded through Measure H, Proposition HHH, and other resources. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

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

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducted the Count, also saw a record number of people placed into housing, as well as double-digit drops in chronic and veteran homelessness.

However, the Count also recorded an increase in the number of people who became homeless for the first time, suggesting that the root causes of homelessness, such as the affordable housing crisis, have continued to worsen.

“A three percent reduction in the Homeless Count means we are on the right track, but this is no time to rest,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “We should use this momentum to accelerate our efforts to address what I consider to be the civic and moral crisis of our time, to scale up our compassion and innovation. These numbers are a call to action to every resident of Los Angeles County to join in the fight to end homelessness. Everyone In!

Rendering of PATH Metro Villas Phase 2, slated for completion in October 2019. PATH Metro Villas Phase 1, located in the same compound, is slated for completion in July 2018.

The Supervisor spoke during a press conference at a construction site where the nonprofit organization, People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), is building almost 200 housing units whose supportive services will be funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure H. Slated for completion in October 2019, PATH Metro Villas will also include a 3,000-sq. ft. primary healthcare clinic, a mental health clinic, a Veterans Connections Center, and other facilities, funded with Measure H and the Homeless Initiative, Proposition HHH, and a host of other public and private resources.

“Voters put their trust in us to deliver housing and services for people living on our streets, and today we see that our efforts are yielding results,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the press conference. “There are thousands of people counting on us to keep going, so we are pressing relentlessly forward until every Angeleno has a safe place to sleep at night.”

“For the first time in four years we saw the number of people homeless in LA County decrease,” LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn said. “It’s encouraging, and indicates new resources voters approved are already having an impact. We housed more than 16,500 people — the most our region has ever achieved. As the funds and programs from Measures H and Proposition HHH begin to reach more people and create more housing, we will continue building on this momentum.”

Gloria Johnson

In 2017, 16,519 people moved into homes in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (LA C0C), which refers to Los Angeles County, excluding Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach. That number is a significant increase from 14,214 in 2016 and 10,917 in 2015.

Gloria Johnson, a nurse’s assistant and former foster youth who experienced homelessness for years before securing affordable housing, said she volunteered for the Count because she wanted to give back.

“Getting into housing has allowed me to go back to school and find a career as a housing case manager at HOPICS in South LA, which provides services, support and outreach to homeless people of all ages,” she said. “My mom died last year — homeless. But I am ending that cycle. My kids have a bed to sleep in. I have a home.”

Among the most striking discoveries in the 2018 Count were double-digit drops in chronic and veteran homelessness. The number of people who are chronically homeless, defined as those with a disabling condition who have experienced homelessness for at least a year, fell 16 percent from 17,204 in 2017 to 14,389 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless veterans fell 18 percent from 4,792 to 3,910.

The 2018 Count also told a promising story about homeless youth. The overall number of youth did not show a significant change, shifting from 3,233 to 3,306, which is statistically within the margin of error. However, 53 percent of homeless youth in 2018 were sheltered, up from 45 percent in 2017.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with PATH CEO Joel John Roberts.

“We are still in the early stages of implementing our homeless initiatives, but these numbers show that our strategies are the right ones and we are beginning to make progress,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “These results should give us the confidence to double down on our efforts. There are still more than 53,000 people on the streets and they should know that help is on the way.”

“Today’s results demonstrate that change is possible if we stay on this road and we aggressively push forward toward solutions together,” added Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Daunting challenges remain in the fight against homelessness, since Los Angeles County has an affordable housing shortage of 565,255 units, partly because rents have been rising faster than incomes. More than a quarter of the homeless who are unsheltered —  9,322 people (LA CoC) — ended up on the streets for the first time in 2017.

The 2018 Count found that homelessness was not driven by new arrivals. Only 10 percent of those surveyed had been in Los Angeles County for a year or less. About 65 percent have been local residents for more than 20 years.

Meanwhile, black people remain overrepresented among the homeless. They account for only 9 percent of the County’s overall population, but represent 35 percent of its homeless population, down from 40 percent the year before.

Other findings of the Count:

Household Types (LA County):

  • Single Adults: 80 percent
  • Families with children under age 18: 14 percent
  • Young Adults ages 18-24, living without a parent or guardian: 6 percent

Gender (LA County):

  • Male: 67 percent
  • Female: 31 percent
  • Transgender: 2 percent

Race and Ethnicity (LA CoC)

  • Hispanic or Latino: 35 percent
  • White: 25 percent
  • Black/African-American: 35 percent
  • Asian: 1 percent
  • American Indian/Alaskan Native: 1 percent
  • Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander: 1 percent
  • Multi-Racial/Other: 1 percent

Age (LA CoC):

  • 22% increase in seniors 62 and older
  • All other age groups saw a slight decrease

Domestic Violence (LA CoC):

  • 3,081 people (6% percent) reported becoming homeless because they fled domestic/intimate partner violence

Health Conditions (LA County):

  • 15 percent report a substance use disorder
  • 27 percent report a serious mental illness

LAHSA conducted the 2018 Count with the help of more than 8,500 volunteers, who fanned out across 4,000 square miles on January 23-25, 2018  to conduct a point-in-time census of the homeless population.

LA County Makes $402M Investment in Fight Against Homelessness

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors — Kathryn Barger, Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl, Janice Hahn and Mark Ridley-Thomas — with County CEO Sachi Hamai at a press conference to update the public on the significant progress that has been made in the fight against homelessness. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

Year 2 Measure H spending plan funds expansion of housing and outreach

Building on an array of promising successes, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $402-million spending plan for 2018-2019 to widen and intensify its fight against homelessness.

The five-member Board unanimously adopted dozens of recommendations for the second-year budget of Measure H, the voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax dedicated exclusively to providing services and programs to combat the homelessness crisis.

Jamal Dunn, a resident of the Fiesta apartments in the San Fernando Valley, credits Measure H with helping him out of homelessness.

The newly adopted budget targets a number of critical strategies in the County’s comprehensive Homeless Action Plan. It includes $120 million for shelter and interim housing, $73 million for rapid rehousing, $49 million for permanent supportive housing, and $30 million for outreach.

The plan expands on spending priorities adopted by the supervisors for Measure H’s first year, but provides greater flexibility to meet emerging challenges and trends, such as the growing number of encampments throughout the county.

“Today’s vote was an important milestone in continuing the difficult and essential work of bringing help and hope to our homeless neighbors,” said Board Chair Sheila Kuehl. “The Measure H spending plan approved today by the Board builds on proven strategies and puts resources where they’re needed most.

“As we enter the second year of this unprecedented effort,” she added, “it’s encouraging to see this collaborative process going forward in ways that are literally saving lives.”

Supervisor Hilda L. Solis said the new Measure H spending plan offers hope for the “tens of thousands of Angelenos who live on the streets, in their cars, or in the homes of friends or family.”

“Today’s passage of Measure H funding expands our effort to make a positive impact in the lives of many of our homeless friends and neighbors,” Solis said. “We will continue to do everything in our power to address the homelessness crisis through collaboration and innovative solutions that help lift up our most vulnerable residents.”

The Board of Supervisors stand together in front of a sculpture of a massive door that is the logo of the “Everyone In” campaign aimed at engaging the public in the fight against homelessnes

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas emphasized the importance of prevention and support.

“Thanks to Measure H, we are expanding and recharging our crisis response to homelessness while, at the same time, funding programs to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place,” he said. “Measure H is funding everything you need to move people into housing, and all that it takes to make sure they stay in housing and thrive.

“We must work together,” he said, “to make sure every person who calls L.A. County home is able to live a life of dignity and purpose.”

Supervisor Janice Hahn praised the County’s progress since voters passed Measure H but cautioned that “we recognize we have a long way to go.”

“We are building new partnerships, we are adapting to new problems, and we are doubling down in our groundbreaking efforts to get people off of the streets and into housing,” Hahn said.

Added Supervisor Kathryn Barger: “We are seeing despair transition to hope. From housing to mental health care, I look forward to continuing our efforts to address every facet of the homelessness crisis.”

Supervisors hold a joint press conference at the Hall of Administration.

Measure H was passed by voters in March 2017, with services beginning the following July. In the nine months between then and March 2018, thousands of individuals and families have been helped.

The County is on track to meet the initial five-year goal of Measure H—to provide permanent housing for 45,000 families and individuals, while preventing an additional 30,000 from falling into homelessness.

Among the most important successes so far:

  • 10,330 people entered crisis, bridge and interim housing funded in whole or in part by Measure H.
  • 5,239 homeless families and individuals secured permanent housing due specifically to funding from Measure H.
  • 2,195 clients were linked to new Intensive Case Management Services slots for permanent supportive housing, 1,108 clients received federal rental subsidies and 808 clients received local rental subsidies.
  • The L.A. County Housing Authority provided $880,686 in incentives to landlords to help secure 403 housing units for disabled homeless adults/families with a federal rental subsidy.
  • In growing numbers, multidisciplinary outreach teams have worked across the County to address the immediate needs of homeless residents and link them to programs and services.
  • Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Teams helped 5,703 disabled individuals with applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Disability Benefits.
  • Homeless service providers added more than 1,000 new jobs across the region to bolster the delivery system. The County is supporting this rapid expansion through an online hub linking job seekers to non-profits at JobsCombattingHomelessness.org.
  • For more information on the county’s Homeless Initiative and Measure H, please visit homeless.lacounty.gov.

 

Exposition Park Embraces Everyone In

Hundreds of people in Exposition Park got an up-close look at solutions to homelessness during United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ first-ever Everyone In pop-up community event.

They were treated to a virtual reality experience in which formerly homeless people now leading stable lives shared their powerful stories of how supportive housing helped them. Everyone In organizers encouraged attendees to volunteer and be engaged at every turn.

On hand to talk about their work, and how volunteers can help, were more than 30 nonprofit organizations in South LA that provide transition assistance to jobs and housing, and other services.

“Homelessness is a moral crisis which will define our civic legacy in the eyes of future generations,” Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas said at the event. “There can be no conscientious objectors in this fight. With Measure H, we can scale up our compassion, our innovation,” he added. “We cannot be timid in the face of this crisis.”

Just over a year ago, voters passed Measure H and Proposition HHH, taxing themselves to fund supportive housing and other services to address the crisis of homelessness. Supportive housing — which combines apartments with on-site services — is safe and well designed, with a 90 percent success rate at keeping people from going back to living on the streets.

A recent poll commissioned by United Way found 69 percent of LA County voters said they want supportive housing for homeless people built in their own neighborhoods.

“Supportive housing is the best solution for ending homelessness and we now know that there’s a strong majority that supports building these solutions in their neighborhoods,” United Way President and CEO Elise Buik said. “We hope people will leave this event with a greater understanding of the benefits of supportive housing, and how they can take action to demand proven solutions to ending homelessness.”

Powered by United Way, Everyone In is a campaign aimed at engaging and activating people across LA County to take part in helping their most homeless neighbors obtain the services they need to build stable lives. The pop-up community event in Exposition Park is the first of many large engagement events that will take place across LA County throughout the year.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. Other leaders who participated in the activities at Exposition Park were Wells Fargo vice president for community affairs Gregg Sherkin,Natural History Museum President and Director Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and SSG-HOPICS Director Veronica Lewis.

Everyone In brings together a coalition of leaders from government, business, philanthropy, faith-and community-based organizations to encourage everyone to take part in solutions to homelessness. United Way’s Elise Buik, Wells Fargo’s Gregg Sherkin, SSG-HOPICS’ Veronica Lewis, the Natural History Museum’s Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas attended the Exposition Park community event. All photos by Diandra Jay.