Six takeaways on Measure HHH

Ann Sewill of California-Community Foundation and Mayor Eric Garcetti at LABC summit (Barry Levine)
Ann Sewill of California-Community Foundation and Mayor Eric Garcetti at LABC summit (Barry Levine)

Measure HHH, the Los Angeles ballot initiative to issue a $1.2 billion bond to finance new housing for the homeless was a hot topic at the Los Angeles Business Council’s housing summit last week, with panelists citing affordable housing data and debating the merits of the measure itself.

Read on for six takeaways from the panel discussions.

1. Housing insecurity is not limited to one income strata

Ann Sewill, vice president of housing at the California Community Foundation, said polling conducted by her organization revealed widespread homelessness fears. Los Angeles residents were asked if they fear that they or their family will become homeless. A whopping 52 percent of all renters surveyed said yes, and 30 percent of people who earned $60,000 to $90,000 a year said yes.

“Which tells us even moderate income people are living paycheck to paycheck and experiencing that housing insecurity,” Sewill said in a panel discussion.

2. The regularly cited data understates the problem.

Sewill claims that L.A.’s homeless count, typically tallied at about 40,000 individuals, is actually 46,000 who are street homeless alone, and there are about 150,000 people who cycle in and out of housing each year.

3. The $1.2 billion is only the amount of the subsidy

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted in a speech at the LABC summit that the $1.2 billion bond that could be passed by Measure HHH is only the amount of the subsidy. Other public funding and partnerships with nonprofit organizations would multiply the city’s investment. Garcetti said the total construction, funded by that mixed pot, would likely amount to $5 billion to $6 billion over 10 years.

4. Local leadership supports HHH

City Council supports it unanimously while the County Board of Supervisors has given majority support.

5. It will house some people who are not homeless

Up to 20 percent of the bond money could be spent on conventional affordable housing without services, Garcetti said. An unspecified amount could also be spent on shelters.

6. HHH will not house everyone

The measure is expected to add 10,000 affordable housing units. But with at least 40,000 street homeless in immediate need, and other individuals and families cycling in and out of housing, it will only put a dent in the problem.