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Home / homeless housing programs

LA Controller: Costs ‘too high,’ pace ‘too slow’ for homeless housing

Proposition HHH, a bond program approved by city voters in 2016 to build 10,000 housing units for people experiencing homelessness, cost an average of nearly $600,000 per unit last year, up from $530,000 in 2020, according to a report released Wednesday by Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin.

Galperin’s report, “The Problems and Progress of Prop. HHH,” is his third review of the $1.2 billion program since it was passed as a ballot measure five years ago.

In his previous reports, Galperin raised concerns about the cost of the units and urged officials to reallocate funds to lower-cost projects, cut bureaucratic red tape and increase the city’s investment in interim housing solutions over permanent housing.

Galperin said Tuesday that the city is working to implement some of his recommendations, including shortening the review process for HHH-funded projects and acquiring and converting existing buildings for housing. However, he has urged the city to use HHH funds for interim housing, which has not been implemented by the city.

While Proposition HHH funds are used for permanent supportive housing, the city’s A Bridge Home program, launched in 2018, is aimed at providing interim shelter for people until they are connected with permanent housing.

Galperin’s report includes details of the cost of Proposition HHH units in the last year, with one project in pre-development expected to cost $837,000 per unit, making it $100,000 more expensive per unit than the most expensive project in 2020.

Galperin said that costs could reach $900,000 or $1 million per unit if the city doesn’t make any changes.

“Although Los Angeles has made some progress with Proposition HHH, it hasn’t been enough,” said Galperin. “The costs are too high and the pace is too slow to address the tragedy on our streets. My recommendations to improve HHH will make a difference now and should serve as a guide for future homeless housing programs. If the city doesn’t learn from its mistakes, it risks repeating them. Angelenos, sheltered and unsheltered, cannot afford that to happen.”

Galperin also raised concern about the amount of time it takes for projects to be complete, between three and six years, noting that at that pace 54% of the units will not be open for two to four more years.

According to Galperin, 14% of the 8,091 total HHH units being produced across 125 projects are ready for occupancy Wednesday, 54% are in construction and 32% are in the  pre-development phase.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Tuesday morning to highlight the city’s work housing people through the program.

“Let’s be clear: Prop. HHH is producing more units than promised, at a lower cost than expected. There are already 1,200 units online providing critical housing and services. And HHH will deliver over 10,300 units of supportive and affordable housing by 2026,” the mayor said.

“HHH has increased our production of supportive housing by almost 600%, from 300 to 2,000 per year. I thank all of our partners for continuing to support our vision of housing all Angelenos in need.”

The city of Los Angeles had 41,290 unhoused people during the latest homeless count in January 2020. Los Angeles County had 66,433. The 2022 count is currently underway, with the results expected to be made public by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority over the summer.

According to LAHSA’s 2021 State of Homelessness briefing, LAHSA enrolled 27,325 people into a shelter and helped 20,690 people move into permanent housing in 2020. LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston said during that event that although temporary housing works to quickly get people off the street and into shelter, it’s more expensive than permanent housing.

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