Barger calls for urgent homelessness housing and increased accountability

LOS ANGELES COUNTY – In a motion set to come before the Board on Tuesday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger and her co-author Supervisor Janice Hahn are calling for an urgent plan with concrete, measurable and attainable housing solutions to tackle the homelessness crisis.

“We’re at a critical junction in our effort to combat the humanitarian crisis on our streets,” Barger said. “Our current approach to building housing is unsustainable, unaffordable and inefficient. My motion organizes and streamlines the County’s work to construct interim and permanent housing.”

Permanent supportive housing units can cost even more to build, as prices per unit of new construction can exceed $500,000. These costs can be attributed to the price of land, labor and construction materials, as well as the competition for labor and compliance with regulations. 

Barger’s motion directs the CEO to develop an Urgent Housing Plan and identify all sources of capital funding to support it. Additionally, the motion calls for the CEO to collaborate with a private sector housing expert to spearhead the plan. The initiative also calls for a robust communications and outreach strategy to engage with impacted communities.

“The government is not the expert in building housing,” Barger said. “Our partners in the private sector know how to get the job done quickly and affordably. With the help of a strike team composed of County Departments, I’m confident the private sector expert will think critically and creatively to construct housing rapidly.”

The motion cites successes in other jurisdictions, such as the City of San Diego, where local leaders have pushed for immediate housing solutions, like Sprung structures, modular and pre-fabricated units, to serve as bridge housing. These facilities serve as a temporary stay for people transitioning into permanent housing while they receive supportive services from health counselors, substance abuse counselors, case managers and outreach specialists.

Barger’s motion emphasizes increased transparency and accountability concerning the development of homeless housing. Beginning December 10, the Board of Supervisors will receive bimonthly public updates on the progress of the Urgent Housing Plan.

The motion, found here, is up for discussion and approval at Tuesday’s Board meeting and directs the CEO to:

  • Develop a process by which all steps necessary to implement the urgent housing plan, including permitting, zoning and approval processes, are streamlined and expedited, working in consultation with LACDA, DPW, Planning, Fire, HI, Sanitation Districts, DPH and others, as appropriate. Also consider appropriate exemptions to Title 22.
  • Identify ongoing and one-time funding for capital projects to be used for the development of homeless housing.
  • Identify a housing expert from the private sector to provide oversight for the development and implementation of the plan.
  • Develop a robust communications and outreach strategy to engage with communities impacted by the implementation of the plan.
  • Schedule bimonthly set item on the Board’s agenda for status reports beginning on December 10, 2019.
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