What's interesting about the first batch of homeless housing to be built by last year's $1.2 billion bond is that it is scattered around Los Angeles instead of being concentrated in Skid Row. A total 615 units of apartments will rise in neighborhoods from South Los Angeles, to an area near pricey Hancock Park to the Sunland area of the San Fernando Valley.
I was sent the list of projects by Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar. I'd asked him about the housing recently at a Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum luncheon organized by public affairs consultant Emma Schafer, who also runs the web site Emma's Memos.
In my question, I made it clear I shared the exasperation of those who'd voted for the bonds about the growing number of homeless encampments felt by many of those who voted for the bonds. What good were the bonds when homelessness has increased in Los Angeles by 20 percent in the last year to 34,189? The number of homeless living in encampments and motor vehicles has gone up comparably.
I asked Councilman Huizar exactly when we could expect to see him, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other public officials preside at the opening of one of the new apartment houses. He replied by having his staff send me the list of projects, which had been approved by the council and signed by the mayor last summer.
I have been writing about the homeless for years. The locations of the project jumped out at me. Most were not in Skid Row.
One was at 1136 N. McCadden Place, near Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, in an area not far from Hancock Park. In this area, homes sell for $2 million to $3 million. The 26 units will be rented to homeless between 18 and 24, among the fastest growing homeless population. Across the street will be services designed for LGBT people, including counseling, classes and job-hunting advice.
That fits the criteria of the most popular method of handling the homeless---"housing first," getting them into housing and at the same time treated in nearby facilities.
A total of 62 units will be provided by a development at 3730 S. Vermont Ave., not far from USC. A total of 122 units will go up near Hollywood. A project in the northeast San Fernando Valley's Sun Valley will have 44 new units. Significantly, none on the initial list are in Brentwood, Mar Vista or other affluent parts of the Westside.
Completion dates range from next October to mid 2020.
Skid Row will get the biggest single batch of the 615--more than 240 units. But much more is being built elsewhere. Just looking at the numbers, it looks as though city homeless housing policy is changing for the better. Still, 615 units for a homeless population of 34,189 is just a proverbial drop in the bucket.