When Los Angeles City Council members vowed to back a minimum number of new homeless housing units in each of their districts, Councilman Paul Koretz cautioned that it might not be easy in the pricey neighborhoods he represents.
“I’m 100% committed to it,” Koretz said, “but we definitely will need some help” finding sites.
Months later, as some council members have neared or breezed past the number, the Westside councilman is among a handful who remain far from that target.
It is nearly two years ahead of the deadline the council imposed on itself, and more apartments are in the pipeline. But the slow start for some members underscores the challenges the city faces in spreading housing for the homeless across L.A.
Housing advocates say high land costs in affluent neighborhoods and other practical barriers, along with fears of community opposition, have historically steered nonprofit housing developers away from some areas. Earlier this year, a city analysis found that homeless housing has been disproportionately built in poor and racially segregated neighborhoods.
As elected officials plan for thousands of units of new housing, they have vowed to reverse the “containment” of homeless housing and services on skid row and plant new units all over the city. Doing so helps homeless people rebound in their own communities, close to family, friends and familiar resources, advocates say.
Placing homeless housing throughout the city also reassures residents who worried about where those units would be built, said Miguel Santana, chair of the citizens oversight committee for Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure for homeless housing.
“Angelenos are willing to do their share,” Santana said, “as long as they know it’s being spread around evenly.”
Council members pledged to back at least 222 units of supportive housing in each of their districts by July 1, 2020, including units dating back to July 1, 2017, around the time the city began funding HHH projects.Meeting that target would put L.A. on track to meet its goal of adding 10,000 homeless housing units in a decade.
So far, no new projects have been approved in Koretz’s Westside district.
The same goes for Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose district stretches from Watts to San Pedro, and Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Bob Blumenfield, who represent the western San Fernando Valley. L.A. council members have the power to quietly block homeless housing in their districts, butthe four lawmakers say they have not thwarted proposed projects.
“We’re pursuing every angle we can,” Blumenfield said, touting other efforts to bolster affordable housing. “But I don’t control what developers do.”
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