The Real Deal Los Angeles

Five plans win contest to build better homeless housing

Garcetti is planning larger challenge with $120M
February 15, 2019 02:00PM

Phil Ansell, head of the L.A. County Homeless Initiative and a rendering of one of the winning ideas from LifeArk (Credit: LifeArk)

Los Angeles officials have announced the winners of a challenge to create ways to build housing units more efficiently to alleviate the homeless population in the region.

Five applicants were awarded $4.5 million in revenue from the county’s Measure H to implement their ideas, the Los Angeles Times reported. From the 53 entries, winners were selected based on how creative, achievable, and scalable the projects will be.

Development firm LifeArk was one of the entries selected for its houses that can float.
The company purchased land in El Monte to construct three of the buildings for homeless tenants.

Another submission from Brooks + Scarpa involved prefabricated housing that can be stacked, which cuts construction time in half and cost by 10-25 percent. The company will use the award money to build a prototype for homeless people that can be replicated in any community.

The challenge was part of a push to break the dependency on a federal program that for decades financed supportive housing. And after voters committed new local taxes to the homeless crisis, constructing units has been slower and costlier than expected.

For months, a committee overseeing Proposition HHH – the city’s $1.2-billion homeless housing bond – has been raising concerns over setbacks and costs that have escalated to more than $500,000 per unit.

In January, Mayor Eric Garcetti set aside $120 million from the bond to solicit proposals to build 1,000 units without tax credits. He plans to model it after the county’s challenge. [LAT]Gregory Cornfield