$700k Apartments and $300k Toilets For LA Homeless in Housing Crisis Scandal
Reducing the costs of housing and increasing availability is the only way to really make a difference in our homelessness crisis.
The city of Los Angeles is attempting to address the problem of homelessness, but the approach it’s taking to the situation is questionable, to say the least. It is currently spending more than the median house price of $618,000, according to CoreLogic, a real estate tracker, to build expensive apartments in trendy Koreatown for some homeless and low-income senior citizens.
What Has Been Achieved With the $1.2 Billion?
Mayor Eric Garcetti, according to his spokesman, is looking for innovative solutions that can be scaled to deal with the problem. In 2016 he supported the passing of a $1.2 billion bond measure with the hope of building about 10,000 permanent housing units for the homeless. The problem is that there is not much to show for the money spent and the homelessness crisis continues to grow.
The building of 72 units is currently taking place in Koreatown at a projected cost of $690,692 each. The keys to these apartments will be handed to some lucky homeless people and low-income senior citizens next year. They will have access to a fitness center, common areas and various services.
Rushmore Cervantes, general manager of the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, points out that the costs of building are largely outside of the control of the city. He also draws attention to the fact that the price of the apartments includes communal spaces and services to help with addiction, mental illness and ease the adjustment to permanent living.
Too Much Money Spent With Little to Show For It
In contrast to the expensive apartments being built by the City, the Union Rescue Mission is approaching the homelessness problem in a different way at a fraction of the cost. CEO Rev Andy Bales says that the large fabric structure being built will have air conditioning, heating and access to clean restrooms. It will provide 120 beds for homeless women who currently sleep in the chapel. Rev Bales says he can’t believe how much money has been spent by the city and how little there is to show for it.
Los Angeles City Controller, Ron Galperin has criticized the pace at which the city has used the $1.2 billion in bond funds. He says building units that are not going to be seen for years and costing $400,000 to $500,000 per unit is not a solution.
Investment in Affordable, Low-Cost Housing Necessary
Cities worldwide are grappling with the problem of homelessness and how to deal with it. Should the homeless be entitled to permanent housing? Are there lower-cost alternatives? Where should permanent units for homeless people be located? Should they be situated in lower-income neighborhoods where land is cheaper or scattered throughout the city?
Megan Hustings, managing director of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washing, DC says that across the board, there has not been an investment in affordable, low-cost housing.
A Fundamental Change in Approach is Necessary
Government programs have achieved little to address the problem of homelessness. Reducing the costs of housing and increasing availability is the only way to really make a difference. Less taxation and reduced effort and cost to obtain approvals are just two measures
What is evident is that the city’s attempts are failing and a different approach is needed. The first step should be calling a halt to the development of apartments costing nearly $700k, that could make a difference. It would also be helpful to address the problem of homeowners using zoning and environmental protection as a cover to prevent development that could devalue their homes.