On February 6, 2020, Mayor Garcetti hosted his fifth in a series of regular briefings on homelessness.
So far, 2020 is turning into a year of momentum and progress in our work to confront the homelessness crisis across Los Angeles.
Yesterday, we cut the ribbon on our new BIN storage facility in Skid Row — nearly doubling the storage space available to the women and men living at the epicenter of this crisis — and we’re adding community space, services, and resources for Angelenos throughout that community.
Last week, the Downtown Women’s Center released the sixth L.A. Women’s Needs Assessment, laying out the specific conditions and unique challenges facing women living in homelessness and poverty. And we’re going to use that data to inform our approach in the months and years ahead.
All of that happened in the span of just a few weeks — and there’s more to come. I look forward to making 2020 a year of action on housing, serving, and lifting up Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
DOUBLING DOWN ON PREVENTION
Just as important as bringing people indoors is the work we do to keep them from winding up on our sidewalks in the first place. Because for every 133 Angelenos housed in 2018, about 150 more became homeless.
That’s a trend that can cancel out all of our remarkable efforts to respond to this emergency. And that means truly tackling homelessness in Los Angeles will require us to expand our investments in prevention.
That’s something we have to highlight every day: what we’re doing to help our residents avoid eviction, keep up with the rent, and stay in their homes.
Right now, my office is working hand-in-hand with our Housing and Community Investment Department, or HCID, to lead that work.
First and foremost, we are focused on implementing AB 1482: a state measure designed to protect renters from skyrocketing costs and unfair evictions.
This vital law took effect on January 1st. But the measure does not provide guidance on how it’s supposed to be administered. So HCID is doing the legwork to ensure that the statute is enforced, effective, and meets its core objectives.
To do that, we’ll offer protections against rent gouging and no-cause evictions to Angelenos in nearly 158,000 units citywide — all of them apartments, homes, and condos that were not covered by our rent stabilization ordinance until this year.
We’ll adopt a robust enforcement program by requiring registration of rental units and their rents and making all of the programs built into our RSO available to these additional tenants.
We’ll hire 20 new staff members to put this crucial measure into place, provide information to our customers and residents, and investigate non-compliance and potential violations. And we’ll expand our education and outreach efforts, ensuring tenants know their rights and landlords follow the law.
HELPING FAMILIES ON THE BRINK
When we talk about prevention, our focus is trained on those households right on the brink of homelessness, many of them working a full-time job or maybe a couple, playing by the rules, and trying to get by. But sometimes, the unexpected happens: a landlord raises the cost of living, or a medical emergency strikes, and people can be left with nowhere else to turn.
“Solid Ground” is designed to support these families. Thanks to the vision and leadership of Councilmember Curren Price and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, this program will help these Angelenos before they fall through the cracks.
Here’s how it works: if a family finds itself facing extreme financial hardship and teetering on the edge of homelessness, they can come to a FamilySource Center and get up to three months of assistance with anything from rent to utility arrears to transportation and food — whatever it takes to help get their finances in order.
Participants can then get a year of additional wraparound services, support, financial coaching, counseling, aid with opening a savings account, and other resources to pull themselves back from the brink long-term.
Everything we’re doing to deliver emergency assistance, rental aid, and services for struggling Angelenos is absolutely vital to our prevention efforts.
Yet we also know we can go a step further: by helping Angelenos develop the skills and resources to stand on their own two feet and cover their bills without any extra assistance.
Building up that kind of self-sufficiency is the goal of L.A. EnterpRISE, a program to empower homeless or housing-insecure Angelenos, put the tools of entrepreneurship into their hands, and give them the support, training, and encouragement they need to start a new chapter.
L.A. EnterpRISE will hand participants everything from business training to credit repair assistance, and connect them to one of the city’s WorkSource or BusinessSource Centers, where they can get an employment referral or apply for a micro-loan.
Ultimately, this initiative will provide one of the best possible answers to this crisis: that the most effective way to get and stay housed is with a good job and a decent paycheck, with real economic opportunity and the chance to earn higher wages that cover your bills.
TURNING THE TIDE ON OUR STREETS
Ending homelessness starts on our streets, with our efforts to clean up our neighborhoods and sidewalks, expand sanitation and trash services, and reach out directly to Angelenos living in encampments.
LAHSA outreach workers and our CARE teams remain on the front lines of this task, taking the lead in some of the toughest circumstances imaginable. And here are some of the results of their work citywide from December and January:
- More than 2,532 individuals were contacted by a City-funded LAHSA outreach worker — which is only a small fraction of the outreach being conducted by multi-disciplinary teams and resources funded by the County.
- Our LAHSA teams have made 1,033 permanent housing placements.
- Our City-backed outreach teams provided more than 8,511 services to clients — like referrals to mental health care programs, help replacing IDs, and placements into emergency shelter.
- Our CARE and CARE+ teams include embedded outreach workers. And since the program launched on October 1st, those teams have provided outreach to 2,404 individuals and provided 8,939 services to connect unsheltered residents to housing, shelter, and programs.
- Altogether, our crews have completed 3,353 cleanups at homeless encampments, removing 4,228 tons of solid waste, 18,265 sharps and needles, and 15,529 pounds of hazardous waste from City streets.
- To give you a sense of how much we’ve scaled up this response: in January, we more than tripled the amount of human waste collected and increased by six-fold the number of sharps and needles collected in one month, relative to the same time last year.
All told, this work is making a difference not just for our homeless neighbors — but everyone who lives in and loves Los Angeles.
OPENING NEW SHELTERS
Los Angeles is adding more beds, at a faster clip, than any other city or county in America — and we are on track to stand up a total of 26 shelters by July. That means we can rapidly move folks under a roof, connect them to services, and put them on a path to permanent housing.
Here are the latest updates on the shelters under construction across our city to welcome in our unhoused neighbors:
In Council District 9, with Councilmember Price and Supervisor Solis, construction will be complete this month. When it’s ready for residents, this sprung structure tent will have space for 100 beds for homeless Angelenos.
In Council District 10, with Councilmember Wesson, the Western Avenue project will have 15 beds for unsheltered women-led families and single women, a place where they can start rebuilding their lives and get the trauma-informed care they need. This project is slated to be completed by mid-March, with 1736 Family Crisis Center on site to provide services.
Staying in Council District 10, we are moving ahead at our LaFayette Place shelter, with 70 beds for men and women, and the Salvation Army providing services. We expect this project to be completed in March.
There are two shelters in Council District 11, working alongside Councilmember Bonin, set to open their doors.
First is our Sunset shelter, with 100 beds for adults and 54 beds for Transition Age Youth, supported by PATH and Safe Place For Youth, slated to open by the end of this month. And then we have our VA site, where we’ll set up temporary housing and services for 100 unsheltered men who have worn our nation’s uniform. We’re aiming to open this shelter by mid-March.
That will bring our total to 14 shelters spread out across our city — and put us nearly halfway to our July 1st goal. That’s an unprecedented pace of development, and we’re going to keep pushing forward as fast as we can to get all of our neighbors indoors and on a path to permanent housing.
BUILDING PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING
As I mentioned at the top, we started 2020 with the opening of 88th and Vermont. And that’s just the beginning of a massive ramp-up in our HHH-funded housing developments, with 50 supportive housing projects expected to open or break ground this year. On average, that works out to one development opening every two to three weeks over the remainder of 2020.
These are all a part of the nearly 150 permanent supportive housing projects either open or in the pipeline, representing 10,564 affordable and supportive units — with 118 of them using HHH funding.
Together, we’re going to get to about 13,000 bedrooms — around 9,000 of which are supportive housing for formerly homeless Angelenos.
Again, all of us are impatient with the pace of progress. We want to see a strong return on our investments without any delays. But that pace is about to pick up, and our HHH dollars are steadily turning into real housing for our low-income and unsheltered neighbors.
To give you a preview of what that looks like, here is an update on several supportive and affordable projects that are in the works and at least half complete.
First, we have seven HHH-funded projects moving toward completion:
- In Council District 13, there’s PATH METRO Villas II — which is 83 percent complete, featuring 115 units of housing for folks living on the sidewalks of that community.
- In Council District 14, there’s 649 Lofts — which is 76 percent complete, with 55 units designed to bring Angelenos inside at the epicenter of this crisis.
- In Council District 6, Casa del Sol is now 64 percent complete — featuring 44 units for homeless and chronically homeless individuals who are experiencing mental illness.
- In Council District 8, Western Avenue Apartments is 54 percent complete and includes 33 supportive housing units.
- In Council District 14, Flor 401 Lofts is 52 percent done, with 99 units on the way.
- In Council District 7, Metamorphosis on Foothill is just over halfway finished, featuring 48 units.
- In our first Council District, Aria Apartments is half complete, with 57 units.
And there are a series of developments specifically designed to serve two of the most vulnerable populations on our streets, seniors and veterans:
- Sun Valley Senior Veterans Apartments — which is 97 percent complete, with 96 units.
- And the Pico Robertson Senior Community — at 8866 West Pico Boulevard — that’s 78 percent done, with 48 units.
All of them are designed to serve our most vulnerable Angelenos and each of them are visible steps forward in every corner of our city — and there’s even more to come.
WORKING WITH STATE AND FEDERAL PARTNERS
This crisis isn’t contained by our city limits or any city boundaries. It’s a challenge facing all of California and hitting streets across our country. No matter how many resources, how much time and energy, how much manpower we direct to solving this crisis — we cannot meet our goals and make progress alone.
That’s why I was so proud to work with our Governor Gavin Newsom last year to expand the homelessness grants created by Governor Brown, allowing us to build more shelters and provide more services.
That’s why I will continue to collaborate with him closely on all of his vital initiatives, whether that’s identifying existing state resources to dedicate to this fight or identifying state-owned properties that can be used for shelter and sending us emergency resources like trailers.
And we will keep working with our state partners to make sure that homelessness remains a priority in our state budget, building on the record-setting HEAP and HHAPP funding of the past two years that’s taken our state investment from $500 million to $750 million in local assistance.
No matter what, Los Angeles will follow the same approach we’ve taken with every batch of additional funding from Sacramento: putting every dollar into adding more shelter beds, speeding up housing construction, and delivering more services.
On top of that, I traveled to D.C. a couple of weeks ago. And while it’s no secret that we have strong disagreements with the Trump Administration on any number of things, I have always made one thing clear: any time our representatives in Washington are willing to work together to solve our biggest problems and our toughest challenges, I am going to be prepared to answer the call.
With a crisis of this size, scope, and scale, we have to reestablish federal investments that can strengthen our local efforts. So I held a series of constructive phone calls with Secretary Carson in recent months, followed by a meeting with him in D.C. And next week, we are planning to meet once again, in the hopes that we can keep moving the ball forward on ways to translate our past discussions into tangible results for our homeless neighbors.
As I say all the time: solving the homelessness crisis is going to take smart policies, bold investments, and a creative strategy, led by the city, state, and federal governments.
But it’s also going to require all of us, as Angelenos and as Americans, to do our part, each and every day, in ways large and small.
We need everyone in, as volunteers at our food pantries and rescue missions and shelters and service providers. As allies for new shelter space and supportive housing in communities that have been hit hard by this crisis.