L.A. homelessness rising faster than affordable housing
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In recent years, chronic homelessness has drastically increased in the L.A. area. Despite recent measures to combat the problem, the issue continues to be a major concern and has not seen improvement– the numbers continue to rise rather than fall. Although many factors play a part in this issue, the major causes of this trend stem from high rents and a dearth of alternate affordable options.
According to the Housing Gaps Analysis report, if housing were to be made accessible for all homeless in the L.A. county, more than 20,000 living spaces would need to be constructed.
The issue, however, lies not in a decrease in housing construction- on the contrary, more than 6,000 housing units have been created since 2015, according to the LA Times. Rather, the problem lies in the rate of homeless population growth in comparison to housing creation rates.
This crisis persists despite Proposition HHH, a homeless housing bond passed in 2016, and Measure H, approved last June, which funds rental subsidies in order to augment federal subsidies with the same goal.
The director of the homeless initiative in the L.A. county, Phil Ansel, predicted that with Measure H, 45,000 families would be able to move into permanent housing in the next five years and that 30,000 families would be prevented from becoming homeless. “We are on track to achieve those targets,” he recently told the LA Times.
Unfortunately however, if homelessness continues at the rate it has been at, funding through tax measures will not be sufficient and the homelessness initiative will still lack about $73 million.
As well as an increase in funding, the county also requires an increase in another area: speed. Throughout California, cities and counties are experiencing delays in the approval of construction projects. Many argue that this is due to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which seeks to analyze projects’ environmental impacts. On closer inspection, the underlying issue is the approval process of local governments in California. CEQA only enters the equation if local governments review each project individually rather than using standardized requirements and measurements for the projects.
Luckily, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has begun to address this issue with requests for certain ordinances that would quicken the development of housing projects. These requests were made last Tuesday and it remains to be seen how beneficial these ordinances will be. However, there is much hope. Sheila Kuehl, who helped draft these requests, told the LA Times, “These ordinances will strengthen our efforts to stem the homeless crisis as well as help keep people in their homes by expanding affordable housing.”