LA County Invests $460M to Fight Homelessness

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with street outreach workers who are on the frontlines in the fight against homelessness. Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $460-million spending plan for fiscal year 2019-2020 to widen and intensify its fight against homelessness.  The five-member board unanimously adopted dozens of recommendations for the third-year budget of Measure H, the voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax dedicated exclusively to providing services and programs to prevent homelessness and combat the County’s homelessness crisis.

“Today’s Measure H budget reflects the County’s strong commitment to confront this deepening and dynamic crisis head-on in spite of serious headwinds that hinder our progress,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.  “It will take bold investments and unwavering partnership at all levels of government and society.  We must make it work for the good of this county and the sake of our very moral fiber.  There will be no retreat as we battle to get Everyone In.”

The newly-adopted budget expands on spending priorities adopted by the Supervisors in the first two years of Measure H and targets a number of critical strategies in the County’s comprehensive Homeless Action Plan. This investment includes $126 million for shelter/interim housing, $85.4 million for rapid   re-housing, $77.3 million for permanent supportive housing, $28.4 million for outreach and $23 million for prevention.

In concert with the funding plan, the Board passed a series of motions to maximize its impact, including:

  • Responding to the Homeless Count (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – A board Directive for the Homeless Initiative to analyze the forthcoming 2019 Homeless Count results and report on its implications for the allocation of State and Measure H funding and potential recommendations to shift Measure H funding within its strategies and use new State funding as needed.
  • Maximizing Investment in Housing Innovation (Sups. Kuehl, Hahn) – Calling for an assessment of the Housing Innovation Challenge and a potential shift of $3.3 million to the Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool to generate more innovative housing.
  • And two motions to potentially redirect $1.3 million from the Homeless Initiative Technology Innovations Request for Proposals (which has potential alternate funding sources) to two programs:
  • Peer Navigators for Homeless College Students (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – $700,000 to Enhanced Services for Transition Age Youth for peer navigators who will locate housing opportunities and services for homeless students at all community colleges in the County.
  • Mobile Shower Expansion Program (Sups. Hahn, Solis) – $600,000 to the Countywide Outreach System to increase access to mobile showers for people experiencing homelessness and to cover the costs to operate the showers countywide.

The County’s unprecedented investment was reinforced at the State level as Governor Newsom’s revised budget aims to double State spending on homelessness to $1 billion.

Measure H is making a difference

Thousands of homeless individuals and family members have been helped by Measure H and the County is on track to meet the initial five-year goal of Measure H to provide permanent housing for 45,000 family members and individuals.

The system is helping more people than ever before. Among the most important successes in the first 21 months of Measure H-funded work (July 2017 – March 2019)  – 14,241 individuals and family members have been permanently housed as a result of Measure H strategies and 28,458 individuals and family members entered crisis, bridge and interim housing funded in whole or in part by Measure H.

Kirk Slaughter, who had experienced homelessness for four years and now lives in supportive housing, shared his experience. “I’m an actual person that represents these statistics.  Before I was homeless I had a life…I was a grad student from USC, I was working, I paid my taxes.  But due to bipolar disorder, substance abuse and wrong choices, my life took a turn.  Just six months ago I was living under a bridge.  But my case manager and her team pulled me up and got me into emergency housing – and now I have my own place with a key.  I’m going to re-enter society and I am a changed man thanks to all of you.”

The number of people falling into homelessness is far outpacing these record housing placements, driven primarily by high rents, unjust evictions and a significant shortage of affordable housing units for low-income renters.

Building on the Board’s prior actions to extend and expand rent control in unincorporated L.A. County, today the Board passed a motion in support of two bills by the State legislature to protect renters from unforeseen and unaffordable rent increases, as well as evictions without just cause.  The Board (Motion by Sups. Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas) lent its support to AB 1481 (Bonta), which would help curb unjust evictions by prohibiting landlords from evicting tenants without just cause; and AB 1482 (Chiu), which would prohibit rent gouging, guarding against the most drastic and disruptive rent increases in places where tenants have no other protection.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks in front of the Hall of Administration to discuss the Year 3 Measure H spending Plan and actions to address the rental affordability crisis. Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

“This problem did not happen overnight and we are not going to solve it overnight,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “But I shudder to think about how many more people would be on the streets tonight if not for the generosity of LA County voters who supported Measure H. This crisis is unprecedented, but today we are addressing it with unprecedented resources.”

“It is critical that our strategies funded by Measure H are responsive to the evolving needs of our homeless residents and the general public,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “The pivots we will make in the upcoming year around prevention and employment represent proactive solutions to curb the inflow into homelessness, which is a critical piece of combating the County’s crisis.”

“By empowering cities, service providers, developers, landlords, and community-based organizations to effectively access and utilize County resources, we can work together to lift individuals and families out of homelessness,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “Rent stabilization, tenant protections, mobile showers, identifying interim and bridge housing, increased construction of affordable units, enhanced training for law enforcement, and additional support for our cities’ homelessness plans are just some tools being used to address all facets of this crisis. While the County and our partners have been successful at placing thousands of people into permanent housing, today’s $460 million investment in homelessness prevention and services will help many more of our residents over the next year.”

“This Board has shown great unanimity in working to help people who have lost their homes get back into housing, but our work can’t simply be about helping people who have already become homeless,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We have to go upstream and prevent people from becoming homeless.  The Board’s approval today means that the Homeless Initiative will make unprecedented investments in prevention, as well as investments in outreach, supportive housing, rapid re-housing and bridge housing.”

Watch today’s press conference here:  https://bit.ly/2Vqv1hp

State Steps Up in Fight Against Homelessness

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Proposal to Double State Spending on Homelessness to $1 Billion

“Leadership matters. With initial data pouring in from across the State indicating that this crisis is getting worse, not better, it’s great to see that the Governor is not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. Combatting homelessness requires not just resolve but investment. Los Angeles County is building a robust safety net th‎rough Measure H, and these additional dollars will be a game changer in our mission to get Everyone In.”

Statement on Emerging Trends in Homeless Count Data Across California

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with LA Family Housing CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer during the annual homeless count with LA Homeless Services Authority. Photo by Martin Zamora / Board of Supervisors

“The bottom line is that there is no retreat and there is no room for complacency. It’s irrefutable that far too many Angelenos live on the streets. But this a marathon, not a sprint, and we are committed to staying the course to build a robust and nimble safety net to get ahead of this epidemic. As we see dramatic upswings in the number of homeless people in counties across Southern California, we must be grateful for Measure H because, without it, the numbers would undoubtedly be even more dire. We must stay all in to get everyone in.”

Breaking Ground on Hundreds of Affordable Apartments

With four groundbreakings over ten days for 200 affordable and supportive housing units and 100 bridge housing beds, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and partners in the public and private sectors accelerated the pace of building affordable apartments and bridge housing in Los Angeles County’s Second District.

On April 8, the Supervisor joined Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson to break ground on St. Andrews Bridge Housing in South LA with beds for 100 people experiencing homelessness. It will also offer supportive services to help them transition into stable housing.

“Thanks to the services provided at this site, about 100 women and men who currently sleep on the streets of South LA will be put on a path to stable and supportive housing,” Supervisor Ridley Thomas said. “This is Measure H at work and public-private partnership at its best, bringing Everyone In and transforming lives.”

Measure H, a ¼-cent sales tax approved by voters in March 2017, is projected to generate approximately $355 million a year for 10 years to fight homelessness. The five-year goal is to provide permanent housing for 45,000 families and individuals while preventing homelessness for 30,000 others.

Also on April 8, the Supervisor broke ground on Vermont Corridor Apartments, 72-unit affordable apartment complex in Koreatown with a feature that local residents have long been clamoring for – a community center and YMCA. The Vermont Corridor Apartments will provide affordable apartments for seniors and other vulnerable members of the community, as well as a 12,500 square-foot YMCA. Several of the units will come with supportive services and subsidized rents for residents who have experienced homelessness.

On April 11, the Supervisor and Councilmember Curren Price led the  groundbreaking of Residences on Main in South LA. A joint venture between LA Family Housing and the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, it will provide 50 affordable apartments, half for chronically homeless youth transitioning out of the foster care system, and the other half for families experiencing homelessness.

On April 17, the Supervisor broke ground on the Stanford Avenue Apartments in West Rancho Dominguez. Developed by Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and designed by Shelter LLP, it will provide permanent homes for 30 low-income families and 53 homeless families who will receive supportive services through Measure H and rental subsidies through Section 8.

“There is no better way to address our homeless crisis than by providing high quality affordable and supportive housing,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Groundbreakings are good. But grand openings are even better.  We look forward to offering these new units in short order.”

Affordable Apartments Coming to West Rancho Dominguez

Stanford Avenue Apartments rendering courtesy of the architect, Shelter LLP.

Dozens of families will be homeless no more as construction gets under way on a beautiful apartment complex in West Rancho Dominguez, slated to open in the summer of 2020.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas led the ceremonial  groundbreaking for the Stanford Avenue Apartments. Developed by Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and designed by Shelter LLP, it will provide permanent homes for 30 low-income families and 53 homeless families who will receive supportive services through Measure H and Section 8 rental subsidies.

Amenities will include multiple community rooms including a ground floor clubhouse, computer lab, a meeting room for supportive services, an outdoor courtyard and gardening space. The side yard will include citrus trees and raised planter beds for gardening.

Left to Right: Hollywood Community Housing Board Member & Actor Glynn Turman, CDC/HACoLA Executive Director Monique King-Viehland, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

“There is no better way to address our homeless crisis than by providing high quality affordable and supportive housing,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Stanford Avenue Apartments represents the rebirth of a lot that had been vacant for decades. Besides transforming the lives of the 85 individuals and their families who will call it home, this development will benefit the West Rancho Dominguez neighborhood.”

“Throughout our 30-year history, the staff and board of Hollywood Community Housing have worked tirelessly to create quality affordable housing that has a positive impact, both physically and socially, on the neighborhoods where our properties are located,” said Hollywood Community Housing  executive director Sarah Letts. “We also strive to transform lives by providing services and access to resources that improve the quality of life for our residents. Many of the services at Stanford Avenue Apartments will be funded by the County’s Measure H and we are grateful to the Board of Supervisors for their leadership and unwavering determination to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis.”

Congresswoman  Nanette Diaz Barragán (44th District) also attended the groundbreaking, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and Wells Fargo Bank, all of which contributed to the project.

“Wells Fargo is committed to providing financial solutions that support the development of affordable housing in areas where there are the biggest needs,” said Tim McCann, Senior Vice President in Wells Fargo’s Community Lending and Investment group. “The need for housing for formerly homeless households and low-income households is particularly acute in Los Angeles, and we’re proud to support Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s development of this project with both equity and debt financing as Stanford Avenue Apartments will provide housing, along with a unique array of supportive services, for some of LA’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Housing Works will provide supportive services at the site, with funding from the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Tenant referrals will come through the County’s Coordinated Entry System and HOPICS. About five dozen apartment units will receive rental subsidies through CDC/HACoLA, allowing their tenants to pay only a third of their income towards rent.

Applications will be available in 2020. For updates, call (866) 563-7062.