Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List

With the number of people falling into homelessness on the rise, NIMBYs thwarting attempts to build bridge and affordable housing, and misconceptions and misinformation being spouted out carelessly, we can make a concerted effort to combat these problems by challenging our own perception, educating ourselves, and increasing our understanding of the issues and our homeless neighbors.

Through the recommendations of our staff and trends in the industry, we’ve put together a list of books that can provide you some conversation material for your next dinner party. Through education, dialogue, and compassion, we can start to shift the narrative on who our homeless neighbors are and work together toward solutions that we know work.

HUD is proposing a rule that will result in the eviction of 11,000 Angelenos

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing a rule that would divide families and could lead to the eviction of 11,000 people across Los Angeles at a time when we are already grappling with surging rates of homelessness.

The rule would deny federal housing aid to households that include anyone living in the country illegally, even when other members are eligible for aid as lawful residents or U.S. citizens.

L.A. City Council leaders are urging residents to submit comments to HUD by the July 9 deadline.

Suggested language:

The proposed rule "Housing and Community Development Act of 1980: Verification of Eligible Status" would have disastrous ramifications for mixed-family households and would directly contribute to our homeless crisis. This rule could lead to the evictions of 11,000 people in Los Angeles alone, a city already grappling with surging rates of homelessness, and could put as many as 55,000 children who are legal U.S. citizens at risk of homelessness. I OPPOSE this rule, and urge HUD to create policies that uphold the agency's mandate to create fair housing opportunities.

Let's ramp up our efforts: Homeless Count results are in

While LA Family Housing moved nearly 2,300 people into permanent homes during the past year, the number of people falling into homelessness over the same period overshadows our progress. In fact, across Los Angeles County, our partners have lifted 21,631 people out of homelessness – a 23% increase over the year prior. Knowing these statistics, it’s heartbreaking to read that The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count shows a 12% increase in those experiencing homelessness.

It is clear that the housing crisis and economic disparities are pushing more people into homelessness.

Since last year’s Point-in-Time Count, LA County saw a rise in homelessness of 12% to 58,936. The City of Los Angeles saw a 16% rise to 36,300. While we are encouraged to see a slower level of growth (4%) in Service Planning Area 2, where we focus our work, we recognize that until these numbers decline, we must continue to ramp up our response and invest more in prevention.

Last year, LA Family Housing’s Diversion team prevented nearly 660 individuals from falling into homelessness through financial assistance, legal, and job placement support. Our street outreach teams engaged in over 1,800 conversations with our neighbors experiencing homelessness, providing support that included document assistance, physical, mental health, and substance abuse services. 

Working hand-in-hand with our homeless programs, LAFH’s Real Estate team has expanded our development pipeline from about one project every two years to five projects at a time, with 268 permanent supportive housing units currently in development, while we own and manage over 400 units of permanent housing. Supportive housing is the answer to chronic homelessness – homelessness that is often driven by mental illness and substance use disorder.

LA Family Housing served nearly 11,000 men, women, and children in 2018 – a 47% increase over the previous year. We placed nearly 2,300 people into permanent homes – a 61% increase – with 97% of those placed remaining stable and permanently housed.

While we’re moving people into available housing faster than ever, there remains a huge shortage of available interim housing beds and affordable rental homes. LA County has a tremendous shortage of affordable housing units, and rents are rising faster for low-income renters and far faster than wages. Median household income decreased by 3% between 2000 and 2017, and a renter would need to earn $47.52 per hour to afford the median monthly asking rent. More than 2 million county residents pay more than 50% of their monthly income on housing.

LA Family Housing is helping more people than ever, but we must ramp up our efforts to address the growing inflow into homelessness. This means increasing affordable housing, preventing unjust evictions, and limiting rental increases. We must continue to scale up the solutions that are working to meet the size of the problem, invest more in prevention and diversion, and build on services and connections to those exiting foster care, the criminal justice system, and hospitals.

At the community level, the most important change we need to make is to rally support for the development of new housing. Everyone can help by saying yes to more housing in their neighborhoods.

Thanks to the investments made by the people of LA County through Measure H, the City of LA through HHH, and your incredible support, LA Family Housing is helping more people than ever sleep in a safe home tonight. Our urgent mission continues to help those who don't.

Stephanie Klasky-Gamer
LA Family Housing President & CEO


Proposition HHH and the housing-first approach to ending chronic homelessness in LA

Angelenos care deeply about our city’s homelessness crisis. And we know what the solution is: Building more homes.

Last January, as part of the annual census of people experiencing homelessness, nearly 8,000 volunteers counted 58,000 people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County — a 23 percent rise over the previous year. More than 34,000 people were counted within the city limits, nearly three-quarters of whom were living unsheltered and almost one-third of whom were defined as chronically homeless. The 2018 homeless count begins on January 23.

This city is in dire need of more supportive housing, a model that combines low-barrier affordable housing, healthcare, and other supportive services to help individuals and families lead more stable lives. Supportive housing isn’t the solution for everyone experiencing homelessness, but it can be for those with chronic health or mental health conditions or people who have experienced chronic homelessness.

There are approximately 6,500 supportive housing units in the LA area, according to the Homeless Housing Gaps analysis prepared by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, but the City and County of Los Angeles have determined we need around 10,000 more in order to address chronic homelessness. The free market has not shown a proclivity to build or sustainably operate supportive housing — that’s a big part of why we see thousands of people on our streets who should be housed.

Fortunately, in 2016 City of LA voters approved Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion supportive housing bond. The vote marked the evolution of Los Angeles into a “housing first” city, a sea change in attitudes that should not be taken for granted.

The housing first approach tackles homelessness by quickly providing a permanent home that includes the critical supportive services needed to maintain long-term housing stability, such as mental and physical health support, crisis intervention, and connection to community resources. It is a departure from other approaches to homelessness, where we first provide services to people still living on the streets and then offer housing later.  

More than 77 percent of voters supported HHH, agreeing to increase their own property taxes by an average of $33 per year to fund 10,000 units of supportive housing over the next decade. Then in March of 2017, 69 percent of county voters approved Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax hike to raise an estimated $355 million annually for homeless services and rental subsidies.  Measure H is also a key source of operating funding for supportive housing.

Now it’s time to get to work. The City’s Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) is implementing HHH in close coordination with key City Council members and the mayor’s office. There is a citizens oversight committee that meets on a regular basis and monitors all activity related to the measure as well.

In June, the City Council approved the first round of HHH-funded projects at $74 million for 615 units, 68 percent of which are designated as supportive housing. These were largely pre-existing projects that needed additional funding to move forward.

From here, the HHH program will not tackle existing development projects in the pipeline but rather fund supportive housing “over the counter,” not through a competitive process but rather for all projects that meet funding requirements. This past winter, the mayor and City Council approved HCID regulations to better frame the implementation of HHH funding going forward, including:

  • HHH subsidies are made available for any project with at least 50 percent supportive housing (with half of that reserved for chronically homeless people). The other 50 percent can receive HHH funds if the units are restricted to resident who earn 60 percent of the area median income or less. Subsidies are also available for buildings with at least 25 units of supportive housing, for those units only.

  • People offered HHH-funded supportive housing units must come from the countywide Coordinated Entry System, an innovative service delivery model and housing prioritization tool used by most homeless services providers to identify solutions for people based on their vulnerability and need.

  • HHH-subsidized projects must meet the following criteria and secure the balance of funding needed from other sources, most likely housing tax credit financing:

    • $140,000 per supportive housing unit

    • $100,000 per unit restricted to 60 percent area median income or less

    • $80,000 bonus for supportive housing units available until June 18, 2018 to help compensate for the lack of “No Place Like Home” funding, which will become available in late 2018.

There will be three calls for project proposals each year, and the first call closed on December 22. The goal is to approve and fund 1,000 units of supportive housing a year, every year, for the next 10 years.

The taxpayers of Los Angeles are investing in permanent homes as the solution to chronic homelessness. But we’ll need more than new funds and a streamlined approval process to reduce homelessness in LA. Land availability and community support are both critical components to any project.

When supportive housing developments are proposed in different parts of Los Angeles, we will need community members who are courageous enough to say YES. YES to building permanent supportive housing in their community. YES to advocating on behalf of families, children, and the most vulnerable. YES to standing with our homeless neighbors who need the necessary services to live and thrive.

This is the beginning of the solution to ending homelessness across Los Angeles, and we should all be a part of it.

Why isn’t there enough affordable housing — of any kind — in LA? Read three new research briefs from Lewis Center scholars.

This article appeared on the UCLA Lewis Center blog.