Confronting the Crisis: Helping our Homeless Neighbors

On October 16, 2019 Mayor Garcetti hosted his third in a series of regular briefings on homelessness — providing updates on our progress in confronting the emergency, and detailing how the City is doing more, faster, in responding to the humanitarian crisis on our streets.

Here’s what we heard from the Mayor:


BUILDING MORE HOUSING


First and foremost is the Mayor’s strategy to accelerate the construction of shelter, permanent supportive, and affordable housing across L.A. We worked closely with Assemblymember Miguel Santiago to draft a new state law that exempts A Bridge Home shelters and HHH-funded housing from CEQA — allowing us to save time and money by speeding up development by as much as a year-and-a-half per project.

Los Angeles is adding shelter beds more aggressively than any other city or county in America, and we are doing everything in our power to get folks off the streets and under a roof right away, across our neighborhoods.

Since the Mayor’s last homelessness briefing, three brand-new A Bridge Home shelters have opened in different parts of the city — on our way to standing up a total of 26 new shelters by next summer.
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The latest additions to A Bridge Home are:

  • The Bread Yard at St. Andrews, in Council District 8 — a sprung structure tent with 100 beds for men and women in South L.A.
  • The Gardner Library, in Council District 4 — featuring 30 beds along with critical services for unsheltered women in Hollywood.
  • Wallis House Aviva, also in Council District 4 — with a total of 42 beds for women and families.


By next month, we expect to add another A Bridge Home shelter in Council District 15 — with 70 beds for men and 30 for women. That’s an additional 100 shelter beds opening in a matter of weeks, on top of the 419 beds already open across eight sites, keeping us on track to meet our goal of more than 2,000 bridge housing beds by July 1.

Providing short-term shelter is absolutely essential to our strategy. But we also have our eyes firmly fixed on long-term solutions to this crisis. That’s why we are so focused on building the supportive and affordable units that voters approved when they passed Prop HHH.

Today, we have 151 permanent supportive housing projects in the pipeline, representing 10,716 affordable and supportive units — and 120 of those projects will have HHH funding. This represents nearly 13,000 bedrooms — more than 9,000 of them will provide supportive housing to formerly homeless Angelenos.

Here are four of the HHH-funded projects making headway:
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  • In South L.A., there’s 88th and Vermont — which is 91 percent complete. And when it’s finished, it’ll include 62 units for very low income families, young people, veterans, and households with special needs experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • In Rampart Village, there’s PATH METRO Villas II — which is 67 percent complete. It features 90 units of permanent supportive housing for folks living on the sidewalks of that community.
  • In Skid Row, there’s 649 Lofts — which is 55 percent complete. It offers 55 units designed to bring Angelenos inside at the epicenter of this crisis.
  • And Casa del Sol, located in Sun Valley, is now 53 percent complete. It features 44 units for homeless and chronically homeless individuals who are experiencing mental illness.


Next, there are three projects backed by non-HHH dollars on their way:
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  • In West Adams, Ybarra Village is 91 percent finished, with 64 units in the works.
  • In Westlake, there’s 7th and Witmer Apartments — which is 83 percent done, with 76 units.
  • In East L.A., there’s 1st and Soto TOD Apartments Phase II that’s 78 percent done, with 29 units on the way.


And there are a series of developments specifically designed to serve two of the most vulnerable populations on our streets: seniors and veterans:
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  • There’s Sun Valley Senior Veterans Apartments — which is 89 percent complete, with 96 units.
  • There’s Westmore Linden Seniors Phase I in Pico Union — that’s 85 percent ready, with 93 units.
  • And the Pico Robertson Senior Community — at 8866 West Pico Boulevard — that’s 65 percent done, with 48 units.


Together, that adds up to 689 units designed to serve our most vulnerable Angelenos, spread out across Los Angeles — because this crisis affects every corner of our city.

And on top of all that tremendous work, just yesterday, the City Council approved funding for a new round of HHH-backed projects. That’s a huge step in the right direction, ensuring we have high-quality, long-lasting supportive housing in the pipeline for every Council District.

Beyond housing earmarked for our neighbors living without a roof over their heads, we need to expand the stock of housing across the board. When the Mayor took office, he set a goal of permitting 100,000 new units of housing by 2021. We reached that goal back in June — two years ahead of schedule — and we’re not slowing down.

Here in L.A., we are actually producing a disproportionate share of new housing to ease the housing shortage in our region. And we need neighboring cities to follow our lead.
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Last year, the City of Los Angeles created 75% of all new housing in L.A. County — despite accounting for just about 40% of the County’s population. We’re building 20% of new housing in California — even though we’re just 10% of the state’s population.
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All told, the City of L.A. permitted 24,000 new housing units in the 2017-18 fiscal year — more than any year since 1986.
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That trend is continuing: in fact, our City permitted 2,273 housing units in July alone — representing a quarter of all housing permits approved that month across California.

The more we boost the supply of housing in our city and region, the more effective we can be in easing the affordability crisis. So we must, and will, keep pushing this phenomenal work forward.
 



SUPPORTING SKID ROW

Skid Row is the epicenter of the homelessness crisis, a community where we have seen this emergency disproportionately impact Black Angelenos and women.

LAHSA was the first agency in the country to pull together special reports on these two communities. They laid out the particular hurdles in racism and disparities in generational wealth that have led African Americans to represent more than a third of the homeless population, despite being only 9 percent of the County’s residents. And they explored the horrific realities facing women experiencing homelessness: higher rates of sexual abuse, assault, and violence.
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Mayor Garcetti has tapped into that work to develop a new pilot program that will offer housing and services to 100 women living on Skid Row and provide trauma-informed care and cultural awareness training for Skid Row service providers and leadership.



CLEANING THE STREETS


This month, we kicked off our Cleaning and Rapid Engagement (CARE) Teams, our redesigned strategy to increase services to our unhoused neighbors as we keep our streets clean and safe.

Through this program, we hired 47 new Sanitation workers, assigned them to areas with the highest need, gave them special training in mental health, and teamed them with LAHSA outreach workers. These public servants will join a total of 30 CARE Teams and 240 workers from across Sanitation and LAHSA.

At the same time, we’re going to put 13 new mobile hygiene units on our streets, featuring shower and toilet facilities for homeless Angelenos — all part of our re-imagined approach to cleanups in and around encampments.

 



BUILDING AN ARMY

LAHSA and homeless service providers across the county are hiring hundreds of outreach workers, case managers, and employment, mental health, substance abuse, and intervention specialists to help Angelenos experiencing homelessness start a new chapter.

Last month, we hosted our fifth homeless services hiring fair to fill these vital posts. Since we began hosting these job fairs in December 2017, we have brought more than 2,750 homeless service providers on board. Those results shows you just how Angelenos are stepping up and joining hands to confront this crisis.

Mayor Garcetti frequently joins outreach workers in the field to witness their efforts firsthand. Anyone who has seen this work up close understands both how difficult it is and how rewarding it can be when we’re able to connect homeless Angelenos with resources to help them begin rebuilding their lives.

Those are the kind of stories behind the numbers in our street strategy — and here are some of the results we achieved citywide throughout August and September:

UHRC NUMBERS

  • At least 4,265 individuals were contacted by a City-funded LAHSA outreach worker in the first three weeks of September — in addition to the outreach being conducted by multi-disciplinary teams and resources funded by the County.
  • We completed 758 comprehensive cleanups at homeless encampments.
  • We removed 9,132 pounds of hazardous waste from our communities.
  • Sanitation teams made 863 additional visits to encampments to help keep sidewalks passable and our crews removed 4,214 tons of solid waste, an increase of 110% over the same period in 2018.


LEADING THE CHARGE


Partnership, collaboration, and cooperation — across lines of jurisdiction, geography, and ideology — are key to effectively confronting this crisis.

To that end, Mayor Garcetti recently welcomed members of Governor Newsom’s Statewide Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force to L.A. We will keep working closely with his administration, and our allies in the state legislature, to accelerate the work of building more shelter, adding more supportive housing, and delivering more services that homeless Angelenos need to get — and stay — housed.

To expand the safety net and help stem the tide of Californians falling into homelessness, the Mayor backed a series of recent bills in Sacramento that have now become law:

  • AB 1482 creates a statewide rent cap and advances essential eviction protections — critical steps forward to slow the rising rents that put too many Californians under water. The legislation protects 374,088 units in the city from rent gouging and arbitrary evictions, on top of the 469,845 units already protected under L.A.’s rent stabilization ordinance.
  • SB 329 gives low-income Californians a fairer shot at finding an affordable place to live — by expanding anti-income discrimination provisions for Section 8 and other housing vouchers.
  • A package of measures will reduce or eliminate barriers to building accessory dwelling units by streamlining their development, removing impediments to construction, and finding financial incentives to get them off the ground.


COMING TOGETHER


Here in Los Angeles, whenever possible, we know we have to hit the pause button on politics when people are in distress, when our neighbors are in desperate need, when our fellow human beings are living without a place to call home.

This is one of those moments. The only way we can — and will — confront this crisis is by coming together as a community of Angelenos determined to act and united around real, lasting, tangible solutions.

We’re seeing that kind of energy on our streets every day — and Mayor Garcetti will continue doing everything possible to meet this moment, and save and rebuild lives.

Join us.