|Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition HHH in November 2016, authorizing City officials to issue up to $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds to partially subsidize the development of up to 10,000 supportive housing units for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, the most pressing issue facing our City. The ballot language requires the Controller to audit the program and L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released his report on HHH’s performance and finances today.
Galperin found that high construction costs and a lengthy approval process mired in red tape have prevented the City’s HHH program from keeping pace with the growing demand for homeless housing. While homelessness in Los Angeles has increased by 40 percent to 36,000 people in recent years, the City is set to fund 5,873 supportive units and 1,767 low-income units with HHH dollars — with many projects costing more than $600,000 per unit. Only 19 projects are in construction and, as of October 2019, zero HHH-funded units are open.
The high price of development is mirrored by long approval and construction timelines. HHH projects are taking between three to six years to complete — a schedule plainly out of step with the City’s urgent need to bring tens of thousands of people off the streets and into housing. In an attempt to speed up this pace, the City created a position to serve as a dedicated concierge for HHH projects, a welcome step that should have been taken sooner.
Galperin recommends examining whether some HHH funding for high-cost projects can be repurposed for use in lower-cost projects, and supporting efforts to streamline the permitting process and hire additional staff to ensure quicker development timelines.
“Tens of thousands of people are sleeping on our streets, in our parks and on our sidewalks each night,” said Controller Galperin. “Providing housing and shelter is a proven way to solve homelessness, but three years after voters approved a $1.2 billion bond for that very purpose, not even a fraction of the housing required exists. A course correction is needed so that the City can maximize HHH dollars and create more units quickly and cost-effectively.”
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