Business & Economy

LA needs tens of thousands of rentals for homeless, report says

A homeless encampment in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)
A homeless encampment in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)
Richard Vogel/AP

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Los Angeles County needs over 22,000 new supportive housing units and 11,000 short-term rental vouchers to functionally end homelessness, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority identified L.A.'s gap in permanent and temporary housing options for homeless and found L.A. is far from meeting the need on its streets.

L.A. County has an estimated 58,000 homeless people, according to a January 2017 count. The 2018 count's results won't be ready until later this spring. 

Officials plan to use the gap report and homeless count to strategize on how to spend money from Measure H, a voter-approved 1/4-cent sales tax that kicked in October 1. Measure H dollars, totaling up to $355 million a year for ten years, are reserved solely for fighting homelessness.

The analysis, "while demonstrating significant need for additional housing resources, also provides a roadmap to address homelessness in Los Angeles County," the report said.

Most of the need is in the permanent housing department, specifically permanent supportive housing, which is housing that generally comes with life-long rental subsidies and services like mental health care and case management. Permanent supportive housing is generally reserved for those who have significant disabilities, health needs, or have been on the streets for a very long time. LAHSA estimates the county needs about 21,275 new units for single men and women—more than double the current inventory — and another 1,386 for families with kids.

Families with children, who are considered more able to get back on their feet, are generally given short-term help with rent and help finding a place to live under a program called "rapid rehousing."

LAHSA estimates it needs another 1,281 rapid rehousing spots for families and 10,446 for individuals.

The county has invested considerable resources in both types of housing for the past few years (there was no locally funded rapid rehousing program just a few years ago), but according to the report, the shortages remain large. 

Even once a homeless person receives a rental help voucher, finding a rental has been another challenge. 

"While there may be debate over the nuances of what housing type and population should receive particular resources, such debate exists within the general assumption that substantial progress will not be achieved without a significant increase in the county’s housing stock," the report said.

Another challenge is the constant influx of new people into homelessness, something LAHSA hopes to quell with interventions like eviction prevention and temporary rent help. 

LAHSA estimates there's also a need for more temporary shelter, about 3,200 beds. 

Read the full report here.