Saving Public Housing in Athens-Westmont


Credit: HACoLA

Hundreds of public housing tenants in South Los Angeles don’t have to worry about “For Sale” signs being posted at their rental homes and apartments.

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors voted to keep 241 public housing units, also called the South Scattered Sites, as part of the county’s affordable housing stock.

His motion also called for prioritizing homeless families and victims of domestic violence when filling vacant units.

“The bottom line is that we are in the midst of a regionwide housing crisis – this is not the time to dispose of 241 units of affordable housing anywhere in the County of Los Angeles,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

The 241 units comprising the South Scattered Sites are on 38 different locations, and reserved for very low-income households. The Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (HACoLA) has been operating the units at a loss over the last several years because of insufficient federal funding.


Credit: HACoLA

Recently, HACoLA considered selling the units for $32 million to a nonprofit organization or another buyer, and use the proceeds to build 126 new affordable housing units concentrated in no more than three locations.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, however, expressed concern about further shrinking the affordable housing stock in a county where the homeless population has risen 12 percent over the last two years.

His motion, approved by a 3-1 vote, called on the county CEO to find the funding needed to cover the South Scattered Sites’ $425,000 annual operating deficit, as well as the $6 million needed for repairs and renovations over the next five years. The motion also called for aggressively pursuing federal funds to reimburse those expenses.

Credit: HACoLA

Credit: HACoLA

Housing the Homeless on Skid Row

image2Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas provided the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) with $500,000 to get as many as 200 homeless persons off Skid Row and into housing this winter.

The discretionary funding was initially intended for DHS recuperative care programs but then shifted to rapid rehousing programs because of the urgent need to provide shelter during the cold months.

The money will now support a County/City/Community project called C3, which is a public and private initiative that deploys four mental and physical health clinical teams to Skid Row. They conduct outreach and connect the homeless to interim residential options and permanent housing with services.

C3 will use the money for interim housing slots critical to making sure that homeless individuals have safe temporary housing while permanent supportive housing options are being identified.

DHS anticipates the $500,000 will help get about 200 people off the streets. It will tap its Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, which receives $4 million in funding from the County each year, to help pay for their permanent supportive housing.

Another source of money for permanent supportive housing is a $10-million rapid rehousing program that the County is launching in response to the coming El Nino, pursuant to a Board motion authored by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

DHS will also utilize permanent housing available through the County’s Coordinated Entry System, which matches homeless individuals to appropriate services and housing.

Supervisors Champion $100M Annually for Affordable Housing

Alarmed by Los Angeles County’s dire shortage of affordable housing units, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan aimed at raising as much as $100 million annually to build or preserve such units for low-income and vulnerable populations.

The County currently has a shortage of 527,000 affordable housing units, and an estimated 44,000 people homeless on any given night.

Acting on a motion by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board voted to create an Affordable Housing Program that would be endowed with $20 million in July and grow incrementally until leveling off at $100 million by 2020.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said increased public investment is critical to alleviating the affordable housing crisis, because every $1 invested by Los Angeles County attracts about $4 in matching funds from private developers. Such collaboration has helped build almost 2,000 affordable housing units in the Second District since 2009.

“The lack of affordable housing has created a toll on hundreds of thousands of Angelenos – it’s put many on the brink of homelessness and jeopardizes our residents’ quality of life,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“The current pace of public investment is simply insufficient,” he added. “We can meaningfully address this crisis, but so will require a comprehensive strategy and scaled-up investment, which must be implemented with urgency.‎”

The remedy for homelessness is homes,” Supervisor Kuehl said. “We need to prevent families from falling into homelessness by providing affordable workforce housing and we need to provide rapid avenues back to permanent housing for those who do fall into it.”

In addition to supporting the creation of permanent affordable housing, funds would also go towards rental assistance, rapid rehousing, shared housing, move-in assistance, and related services for individuals and families.

While there will be a focus on low-income families, seniors, homeless individuals and families, other vulnerable populations that would benefit from the increased investment include youth aging out of foster care; adults and youth exiting the justice system; veterans; those with physical disabilities; domestic violence survivors; and a broad range of individuals who are frequent users of County health and social service programs.

“We need to be realistic about the amount of investment that is required to meaningfully address the housing crisis,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We must be thoughtful, but we must be audacious. And we must move with urgency.”


Making an Immediate Impact on the Homeless Crisis


On a motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Michael Antonovich, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved investing $15 million on programs to rapidly rehouse the homeless and to prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless.

The money would come out of Los Angeles County’s Homeless Prevention Initiative (HPI) fund, which started with $50 million at the beginning of this fiscal year and recently grew by another $51 million.

“With the harsh winter months approaching, and predictions of a severe El Nino season, there is a sense of urgency and a moral imperative to act now,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said during Tuesday’s board meeting.

image2In Los Angeles County, an estimated 44,000 men, women and children are homeless on any given night, sleeping on the streets or in vehicles, shelters and transitional housing programs. That’s 12 percent more than in 2013 – a dynamic and deepening crisis.

The Board is still weighing how to allocate the new $51 million infusion to the Homeless Prevention Initiative fund. Throughout October and November, the County is holding 18 summits among public and private stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the homeless crisis, and a report is due in February.

Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Antonovich, however, believe the Board has a moral responsibility to act sooner rather than later to invest in proven intervention practices and fill known budget gaps in existing crisis response systems for the homeless. For instance, a major source of funds for the rapid rehousing of homeless families with kids under age 6 will be exhausted in March.

“The funding recommendations in this motion would build on existing successful initiatives and allow the County to make an immediate impact while the strategic planning around homelessness occurs,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

The motion sets aside:

  • $10 million for rapid rehousing of single adults who are not chronically homeless;
  • $3 million for rapid rehousing of homeless families with children;
  • $2 million to provide assistance to families on the brink of homelessness so that they can get back on their feet and not end up on the streets.

The motion also called for identifying continuous federal, state and other funds that could be used to pay for ongoing services in permanent supportive housing projects.

Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Antonovich said in their motion, “These strategies have been proven to prevent and end homelessness and would allow the County to make a more immediate and substantive impact in areas with the highest need, while the (County) CEO completes the strategic planning process to address these issues.”