A survey of Los Angeles residents found nearly 70 percent would welcome “supportive housing” for the homeless in their neighborhoods. But the lingering question is whether more housing alone can solve the homelessness crisis on the West Coast.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles conducted the survey of 1,000 likely voters and touted the positive answer to that question as part of its new “Everyone In” campaign.
“What stops us now won’t be a lack of homes but a lack of understanding of the issues and solutions,” LA United Way president Elise Buik said in a statement.
Angelenos voted in 2016 for Proposition HHH to raise $1.2 billion over 10 years to tackle homelessness through an increased property tax of nearly $10 on every $100,000 of owned property. The tax will fund a bond to build 10,000 additional units of permanent housing (at a cost of $350,000 each), as well as spur additional development of affordable housing. A 2017 sales tax hike, termed Measure H, would provide yet another 10-year housing fund of $355 million annually. The two taxpayer-supported funds total nearly $4 billion and would benefit about 13,000 homeless people.
Some balk at the huge emphasis placed only on housing, saying what the homeless lack most is a supportive community and other services. The “Housing First” strategy in vogue in many municipalities assumes having a safe place to live will automatically help people make better life choices such as finding jobs or seeking addiction treatment. But Housing First has shown poor long-term results, and many recipients eventually return to the streets.
In Los Angeles, the scale of the homelessness problem compares to a humanitarian disaster, causing officials to put urgent focus on housing. Last month, LA City Council members proposed building 222 housing units in each one of their city’s 15 districts using bond money from Proposition HHH. All potential projects are subject to mandatory input from neighboring property owners. —R.H.