A Los Angeles City Council committee Wednesday approved another round of Proposition HHH loan requests to help fund supportive housing, although the panel held back funding for some projects.
The HHH ballot measure approved by voters in 2016 provides a total of $1.2 billion in housing bonds for eligible projects aimed at housing and providing services for the city’s homeless population.
About $231 million of that was approved last month by an oversight committee for 34 various permanent supportive housing projects, and another $120 million was slated for recipients of the city’s Housing Challenge Request for Proposals, which will loan money to several projects expected to create about 1,000 units.
The council’s Homeless and Poverty Committee approved those funding allocations Wednesday. If approved by the full City Council, 8,600 of the city’s goal of 10,000 permanent supportive housing units by 2026 will be funded by HHH loan money.
Additional HHH-funded projects were approved previously by the council.
One supportive housing proposal that’s sparked debate is located in the western San Fernando Valley, which is represented by new City Councilman John Lee. The housing facility is proposed to include 64 supportive housing units at 10243 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Erich King, a representative from Lee’s office, asked the committee to delay its approval of funding for the housing project, known as the Topanga Apartments, so the new councilman can have more time to assess it. But that request was denied, and the committee advanced the funding proposal to the full council.
“Council member Lee is committed to the city’s goal of housing those experiencing homelessness, 100 percent,” King said. “The truth is CD 12 … has not rejected one (supportive housing) project. None of them have really come to our community. Unfortunately, Council member Lee was just elected a few weeks ago, so again, all we are asking is for a brief period of time to be able to provide outreach … come up with something that works for the community, the developer and our office.”
City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell initially sought to give the Topanga developer and Lee two weeks to conduct further outreach meetings and discuss the situation.
But Councilman David Ryu said Wednesday, “This (approval) wouldn’t even mean that something gets built, even with a commitment of funding. I see it as a way to help the district rather than hurt it.”
James Silverwood, vice president of Affirmed Housing Group, which plans to develop the Chatsworth housing facility, said a 30-day delay could ultimately ruin the project, as the land sale is in escrow.
“It would be a shame for the first project in CD 12 to hit this roadblock,” Silverwood said, adding that he would be willing to meet with Lee’s representatives.
Committee members said it has been difficult just to get to the preliminary phases of approving HHH loans.
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said he wanted two projects in his South Los Angeles district to be reconsidered, one called SoLa at 87th Street and another called the Florence Avenue Apartments. He emphasized that his request was different than Lee’s because his district has already committed to 600 units, nearly triple the minimum 222 commitment made by the council for each district.
The committee voted to delay those requests for four weeks while further community outreach is conducted.
The committee’s meeting room at City Hall on Wednesday was filled to capacity and some audience members had to use an overflow room to monitor the meeting.
All HHH funding comes with a two-year window in which developers have to obtain 100 percent of the financing for the projects under expenditure plans. If developers delay, the HHH funding could be pulled and housing projects could be dissolved, city officials said.
Additional housing could be funded though other avenues, such as federal resources. O’Farrell said he wanted city staff to report on how much funding would be needed for additional supportive and low-income housing. Interest from the HHH loans could also be used for future housing, officials said.
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