Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Los Angeles and other cities could be asked to help subsidize temporary housing costs for homeless individuals and families, and to take other steps to reduce homelessness, under a draft plan released by the county Thursday.

Los Angeles County officials say the homeless initiative, still in its draft form, focuses on stronger coordination and a “housing first” approach of getting more homeless people into permanent housing.

The initiative makes 47 recommendations covering six goals, which are to prevent homelessness, subsidize housing costs, increase income, provide case management and services, create a coordinated system for homeless services and increase affordable housing.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the draft plan in February. Prior to that, the county will be holding a community meeting about the plan on Jan. 13 and taking public input until Jan. 21.

Under the plan, cities are being asked to take on a greater role in helping the homeless, such as by subsidizing housing costs. Cities would also be called on to create policy that encourages more affordable housing to be built, and improve the way police and other public safety officers interact with the homeless.

Phil Ansell, the director of the county’s homeless initiative, said that the draft strategy “invites cities to partner with the counties.”

The city of Los Angeles released its own report on tackling homelessness this evening, estimating a whopping cost of $1.87 billion over the next decade. The analysis prepared at the request of the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti assigns most of the cost to building or leasing more housing, and the rest for providing services and outreach.

More than half of the region’s estimated 44,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles.

Under the county homeless initiative, cities interested in helping with rent subsidy, under a program known as rapid re-housing, would pay $500 per month for each household receiving the assistance, while the county would match that cost.

Such assistance would be directed toward homeless families and individuals who need a stable place to live so that they have a better chance of finding a job and pay for their own housing costs.

The draft plan calls for the county to put in an additional $26 million to be put toward rapid re-housing rent subsidies, on top of $10 million already approved by the county board.

City officials recently agreed to dedicate $10 million to pay for rent subsidies.

Garcetti spokeswoman Connie Llanos said the mayor supports this rapid re- housing strategy and recently proposed to dedicate $10 million to pay for rent subsidies for the homeless.

In order to provide any additional dollars, the mayor is “willing to put everything on the table when it comes to funding for homeless services,” which could be done by “creating new dollars or re-prioritizing existing funding,” Llanos said.

The county initiative also calls on cities that distribute federal housing vouchers to direct more of the assistance to those who are chronically homeless and live in permanent supportive housing units, which are residences that come with counseling, health and other services.

Ansell also said federal housing subsidies, often referred to as Section 8 vouchers, “are the best way to provide housing for chronically homeless individuals who need permanent supportive housing.”

The draft strategy asks cities to dedicate more of those dollars to the chronically homeless, while the county is being asked to commit 50 percent of these vouchers to this population, he said.

Wire reports 

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