Mayor Garcetti, HUD Secretary Castro Urge Landlords to Help Expand Housing Opportunities For Homeless Angelenos

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, City Councilmembers Joe Buscaino, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Gil Cedillo, and property owners join roundtable on strategies to get Angelenos off the street and into permanent supportive housing.

LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti today convened a roundtable discussion with U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro on creating new housing opportunities for homeless Angelenos.

They were joined by L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; Councilmembers Joe Buscaino, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Gil Cedillo; housing and service providers; and landlords from across Los Angeles.

As part of the discussion, landlords were encouraged to recruit more property owners to accept HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) or Section 8 housing vouchers from Angelenos who need homes. The participating landlords shared their own experiences in opening units to people who had been homeless.  

"Landlords and property managers have the power to transform lives, and that’s why we’re working with them to open vacant units to homeless Angelenos who need a new lease on life," said Mayor Garcetti. "This isn't charity — it's good business for a good cause."

The vouchers provide immediate housing opportunities to the broadest base of people experiencing homelessness, and require a commitment from private landlords to dedicate vacant units to housing homeless Angelenos. More than 2,000 Angelenos currently have a voucher in hand, but have not found a place to live.

"Communities across the nation are making steady progress in reducing homelessness, but there is still more work to be done,” said Secretary Castro. “Landlords can be a driving force in this effort by accepting housing vouchers from veterans and other individuals experiencing homelessness. Opening doors to our most vulnerable Americans will help break the cycle of homelessness as we've come to know it in Los Angeles and in other communities."

Mayor Garcetti’s administration is also converting blighted properties into safe, supportive housing for homeless veterans — adding a new, creative dimension to the City’s homelessness strategy.

In June, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) announced an innovative approach to developing permanent supportive housing (PSH) that could more than double annual PSH production in Los Angeles without drawing from additional resources. HACLA’s Board of Commissioners approved the dedication of 500 HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Project Based Vouchers (PBV) to Shangri-La Construction and Volunteers of America. With dedicated rental assistance in hand, the developers will repurpose buildings in need of minimal rehabilitation — like motels and hospitals — with the goal of moving in homeless veterans by January 31, 2017.  

HACLA has emerged as a national leader for the creative development of landlord incentives for Veteran and non-Veteran populations. Current initiatives include:

  • Provision of security deposit assistance for newly housed homeless persons;
  • Allocation of up to $1,100 for unit holding fees; and
  • An increased HUD-VASH voucher payment standard from $1,269 to $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

“We welcome the federal government as a partner in the fight against homelessness, especially in L.A. County, where on any given night, 47,000 men, women and children lack decent housing and services,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “United, we can and must take immediate action to restore dignity to those forced to live in such unsafe and deplorable conditions.”

"One of our biggest hurdles to housing homeless individuals is getting landlords to accept Section 8 vouchers," said Councilman Buscaino. "It is essential to the success of any homeless housing plan to have municipalities work with, encourage and assist landlords in our communities, so that when a person is ready to accept housing we have a home to place them in. I applaud the work of Secretary Castro and Mayor Garcetti to address the needs of landlords as we continue to work on solutions to homelessness in the City of Los Angeles."

"As we work to successfully fund the development of thousands of new Permanent Supportive Housing units through a general obligation bond over the next few years, we will be depending heavily on property owners to lease their existing units," said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. "This partnership between landlords, service providers and the City is essential- we must continue to cultivate this collaboration by providing additional resources to both the landlords and housing navigation services to ensure individuals are housed as quickly as possible."

"We are excited to host the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro for a most timely discussion on the role landlords play to help us house our homeless constituents,” said Councilmember Cedillo. “The Mayor's highly successful homeless veteran initiative provides the framework from which to build a broader approach to housing our entire homeless population."

“PATH is honored to partner with The City of Los Angeles, HUD, and the VA to house as many of our homeless veterans and neighbors as possible," said Joel Roberts, CEO of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). "We believe that community based organizations like ours are uniquely positioned to make the biggest impact. These public public/private partnerships are a key strategy to ending homelessness for Veterans and individuals in our community.”