The Los Angeles City Council member representing Venice introduced legislation Wednesday to expand two programs that have quickly housed thousands of people experiencing homelessness.

Councilmember Mike Bonin wrote in the motion he introduced last week that local social service agencies operating with new funding and more outreach workers are still often unable to find housing for people who want it. Rather than waiting for the 10,000 homes promised under the $1.2 billion bond measure Proposition HHH to come online, Bonin urged the city and county to expand programs that use existing rental units to house people living on the streets.

“We need to break the mold and embrace quicker, less expensive solutions or homelessness will continue to increase, encampments will continue to proliferate in our neighborhoods, and people will continue to die,” Bonin said in a press release.

The county has made substantial investments in master leasing programs, in which a government or social service agency rents available housing units and makes them available to agencies that provide housing to people experiencing homelessness.

Since 2014, the county’s flexible housing subsidy pool has housed almost 7,000 people and currently provides housing for almost 200 people per month. The program is funded by the county and philanthropic partners and overseen by the nonprofit Brilliant Corners.

Bonin proposed that the city invest in a flexible housing subsidy pool of its own and to explore whether it can require or incentivize that existing affordable housing units be used for such a program.

He also asked the city to expand the “Encampments to Homes” project, which multiple county agencies and nonprofits piloted in South Los Angeles last year. The agencies matched 106 people in two large encampments with housing and 96% remain housed a year later.

The “Encampments to Homes” pilot project enhanced the usual outreach and placement protocols with a more geographically focused and proactive approach connected to new, nearby housing resources that were set to become available,” Bonin said in the motion.

Homeless encampments have proliferated in Venice over the past three years as the neighborhood’s homeless population swelled by 33%.

Venice residents complain that the encampments are a blight on the neighborhood, and a lawsuit the Venice Stakeholders Association filed to block a homeless shelter currently under construction at a former bus yard in Venice claims it would create encampments of people waiting to be admitted to the shelter.

Bonin recently voted against a proposal from Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell to ban people experiencing homelessness from sitting or sleeping on sidewalks in many parts of Los Angeles, saying that the city should build more shelters and housing rather than restricting where unhoused individuals can sleep.

In the motion he introduced Wednesday, Bonin said sidewalk encampments cause considerable alarm for housed residents and exposes unhoused residents to the elements, harm and public health threats.

“Clearly, more aggressive and coordinated efforts are required to help people move from encampments and into long-term housing,” he said.

madeleine@smdp.com

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2 Comments

  1. There are currently over 200,000 vacamt rental units in Los Angeles, enough to house the homeless population 6 times over with units to spare. It’s about time a member of the City Council came up with a plan to place homeless individuals & families in some of this EXISTING HOUSING, rather than waiting for Prop HHH new construction to happen (How many prokects have even broken ground? Like two?) while the problem worsens by the day! And allowing people to continue to live in the communities they call home rather than forcing them to move to areas where more Section 8 housing exists, places they may not feel comfortable living, far from the ties they have already established? Brilliamt! Let people remain in the neighborhoods they’ve already chosen to live in, they’ll hang on to that housing better & longer. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but so much more needs to be done. LA’s current homeless crisis didn’t happen overnight, nor will it be solved quickly. It’s a complex issue that must be addressed on many different fronts. I’d like to see renewed talk of a “vacancy tax” levied on landlords whose units have remained vacant for more than a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps it could be one source of funding for this flexible housing subsidy pool Coucilman Bonin speaks of. Also, I think we need to utilize more “modular construction,” which costs much less & can be completed much faster than traditional new construction. We also need to stop wasting funds on housing models that don’t work. “Rapid Rehousing” only has something like a 35% success rate at the 12 month marker. Scrap it & channel funds into more Permanent Supportive Housing, which has a success rate of around 90%. This legislation introduced by Councilman Bonin, though, makes sense. It will yield faster results at a much lower cost than new construction, & at this point I think the people of LA need to see some results!

  2. We have a housing crisis because there are not enough units for rent. Vacany rates for apartments is nonexistent. If there are not currently enough units for people to rent, how will units magically apear for the city to rent? No landlord has a problem filing units for market rate. They all have waiting lists.

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