Searching for Bridge to Home and Supportive Housing in CD5
After years of losing ground, newly-enhanced efforts and investments appear to be helping Los Angeles turn the corner in its struggle to deal with an enormous homeless crisis involving more than 30,000 unhoused persons. Predictions are that the results of the January 2018 annual Homeless Count – which will be released to the public on May 31st – will show positive progress for the first time in years. But that’s just the beginning.
Councilmember Paul Koretz along with his colleagues have each taken a pledge to support the building of 222 units of Supportive Housing (partially financed with funds raised by selling bonds under Measure HHH). And Mayor Garcetti has called for each Councilmember to identify at least one location for the “A Bridge Home” temporary housing program by the end of this calendar year. Councilmember Koretz is working to identify suitable locations for such facilities in his district.
So far, no sites for Bridge housing have been identified in the district. Many of the sites being looked at in other districts are City-owned, but the City-owned properties in Council District 5 are almost all being used for recreation centers, senior centers, and the like. Several City parking lots are being reviewed, but none of them are expected to be used for the Bridge program.
That leaves privately-owned properties, which are equally hard to come by in the high land cost neighborhoods of the district. One building on Beverly Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue seemed promising, but appears to be unavailable. Other possibilities are being sought.
As soon as potentially viable sites are identified, Councilmember Koretz and a team of City and County staff will begin dialogues with residents and stakeholders in the vicinity to determine whether they can work. The deadline for identifying and opening Bridge program facilities is December 31, 2018. Districts that fail to do so risk losing access to more than $2 million set aside in the 2018-19 City Budget to move homeless persons off the street and into the temporary housing, and also increase the intensity of clean-up and enforcement services around homeless encampments in the district.
For Measure HHH Supportive Housing projects (which basically are affordable apartment projects with at least a third of the units set aside for formerly homeless people with “wrap-around” services provided for them), most of the first 20 or so projects heading for construction around the city at present utilize vacant or underutilized City-owned properties. Again, none are in CD5, so the search for privately-owned sites is ongoing. At present, the most promising site is a commercial lot on La Brea Avenue identified by a nonprofit developer.
Councilmember Koretz is asking residents and stakeholders in Council District 5 to become partners in this effort by helping him find suitable locations for temporary or long-term housing. He understands the concerns many have about placing these kinds of facilities in the community. But he strongly believes that, since thousands of unhoused people already live in the district, it would be better to house as many of them as possible then to leave them on sidewalks, in alleys and under overpasses where the impacts are visible and costly to deal with. Housing the homeless makes them no longer homeless. That’s not only good for the people getting housed, it also improves the quality of life for everybody in the community.