LA County targets $800M to house the homeless

Long-term program comes as initiative to lease hotel rooms for coronavirus-vulnerable people is set to expire

LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston
LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston

Los Angeles County is proposing an $800 million program aimed at creating more permanent housing for thousands of homeless people, as its short-term leases with hotels to shelter that population are set to expire.

The L.A. Homeless Services Authority’s three-year proposal calls for bridge housing, rental subsidies and rehousing, according to the Los Angeles Times. Bridge housing has been a fraught issue in the city of L.A., where local residents frequently push back on the city siting bridge housing in their neighborhoods.

The massive county initiative would potentially assist upwards of 15,000 homeless people who are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, much as the state-funded Project Roomkey program was intended to do. That temporary program, which involved renting hotel rooms — many of which had been empty because of the pandemic — will end next month when the leases expire.

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Project Roomkey has also fallen short of its goals in many California jurisdictions. L.A. County, which now has at least 67,000 homeless people, secured just 4,000 rooms.

County Homeless Services Authority Executive Director Heidi Marston said in a statement that the agency was “not backing away” from the goal of housing 15,000 people. “We know how to house them,” she said. “We need the resources from the city, county, state and federal government to do it.”

The plan, which has not been funded, would use $200 million from existing programs but would require an additional $600 million, according to the report. That additional funding could come from federal and state coronavirus relief programs. [LAT]Dennis Lynch