Report: LA must spend $1.8+ billion over 10 years to fight homelessness


Los Angeles must dramatically pick up the pace of spending on homelessness if it is to get nearly 26,000 homeless Angelenos off the streets, according to a new city report.

City analysts estimate Los Angeles needs to dedicate at least $1.85 billion over 10 years to properly address the crisis.

The large sum is "the result of underfunding and under-building affordable housing over an extended period of time, while failing to build adequate capacity to serve and house existing homeless Angelenos," according to the report overseen by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Sharon Tso.

Creation of housing for homeless and low-income people makes up the bulk of policy recommendations. A top goal is getting homeless individuals into permanent housing with support services such as mental health assistance. In the interim, the city must distribute more rental subsidies - 'rapid rehousing' vouchers - that can help people get into the market-rate rentals, according to the report. It also advises the city enhance the short-term shelter system by providing case managers for residents.

In September, city leaders stepped up their commitment to fighting homelessness, promising to spend $100 million. But even allocating that amount on an annual basis would not meet the $1.85-plus billion target in the report.

"It's a bracing figure," said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who sits on the council's Committee on Homelessness and Poverty. "We have to do a lot of work to get those funding streams in place."

The report recommends that the city look into charging fees on new developments, building demolitions, and conversions of rental units into condominiums, among other things.

Bonin said the city may have to turn to taxpayers to come up with revenue. He was sanguine about the prospects of a general obligation bond. He said homelessness has overtaken traffic as his constituents' top concern. His Westside district includes Venice, home to one of the city's largest concentrations of homeless people.

"I think people are hungry for proposed solutions," Bonin said. "If folks really believe the city and county are working together, I'm confident they'll be willing to consider funding that."

The city report was released just hours after the county delivered its strategies for addressing homelessness. Staff from both levels of government have been meeting over the last several months  as they prepared their parallel reports. Officials say they've been motivated by the increasing numbers and visibility of homeless people. The population has grown by 12 percent in both the city and county over the last two years, according to the most recent homeless count.

Both the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors will take public comment on their plans on the same day - Jan. 13.

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, the co-chair of the homelessness panel, said in a statement that he was "especially proud of the collaborative effort that we have taken with the County in preparing and exchanging ideas."

The city analysts, for example, said Los Angeles could try participating in housing voucher programs run by the county and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Both the city and the county are expected to finalize their plans in February. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that city report will serve as "the blueprint we need to guide our decision-making process, and its recommendations will help us allocate the critical funding we need to address this issue over the next decade."

Bonin said he is 'impatient' about acting on some of the report's proposals. He said the city should get to work expanding rental subsidies, increasing facilities where homeless people can shower and store their belongings and providing safe places for people living out of their cars to park overnight.

"We need to be taking immediate action," Bonin said.

You can read the full report below: 

Document: City of Los Angeles homeless study