Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on Monday unveiled a 62-unit apartment building for unhoused seniors, which she said is one the “fastest growing populations” of homeless residents in the city.
According to Bass, over the last nine months, the city expedited more than 7,000 units of affordable housing and projects across the city, including the newest building, The Wilcox, located at 1040 N Kenmore Ave. in East Hollywood. She thanked the LA City Council, the LA County Board of Supervisors, as well as the state and federal governments for their partnership to address the homelessness crisis.
“There is no way with 46,000 people unhoused in our streets that we can let up,” Bass said.
The mayor emphasized her executive directive No. 1, which she signed in December, continues to accelerate and lower the cost of affordable housing projects.
So far, the Department of City Planning received 95 proposals for 95 affordable housing projects, completed 38 project cases with 57 currently under review, and about 7,301 units of affordable housing proposed. In addition, Bass’ directive cut the average processing time for projects with complete paperwork to move forward from months at a time to about 47 days.
Bass noted that it is critical to ramp up affordable housing development, especially for the city’s senior citizens, who have been “priced out of the housing market.”
“This is what urgency looks like. Approval process that used to take six months now takes 47 days. Other projects that weren’t going to be ready until 2025 are going to come online next year,” Bass said. “And let me be clear, when we save time, we save lives.”
Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who represents the 13th District which includes East Hollywood, said he could not be more happy to open the building in his district.
“This is an example of the kind of policy that we know works,” Soto-Martinez said. “What does not work is shuffling people from block to block, hoping that one day they’re going to get into housing.”
Mercedes Marquez, Bass’ chief of housing and homelessness solutions, said residents will be moving in later this month.
The Wilcox started construction in October 2021, but the mayor’s executive directive accelerated the project coming online, Marquez noted. The project also received some assistance from the Department of Water and Power to be fully energized in July, and expedited review of its application waiver.
Rebecca Louie, president and CEO of Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation, said the project will soon welcome 62 seniors and provide them with services where they can come in, rest, heal and recover.
“We believe we could save a year on future similar projects starting from the beginning,” Louie said. “Projects like this are a vital component in our fight against homelessness.”
Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who chairs the Council’s Housing and Homelessness Committee, said the city must build another 456,000 new units, of which 184,000 need to be affordable, in the area, as mandated by the state.
She added that developers say their biggest challenges is the “unpredictability of the Los Angeles city’s approval process for affordable housing.” Raman reiterated the process can take up to six months or longer.
The councilwoman emphasized the mayor’s executive directive is making all the difference. In Raman’s Council District 4, there are currently 444 units in the pipeline.
Raman, along with Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky and Council President Paul Krekorian, introduced a motion in June to codify the mayor’s executive directive.
“Our affordable housing crisis can feel overwhelming, but with measures like ED 1, and codifying this kind of predictability into law here in the city of Los Angeles, we can ship away unit by unit at this crisis,” Raman said.