The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday in favor of a proposal to identify a minimum of eight motels countywide that could be leased out as interim housing for chronically homeless individuals.
Supervisor Janice Hahn recommended exploring master lease agreements with motels and also seeing whether the same motel parking lots could be safe parking sites for homeless people living in their cars or recreational vehicles.
The lease agreements would allow county outreach workers to offer chronically homeless individuals living in encampments a place to settle in and access support services while waiting for a permanent home.
“It is hard to find affordable long-term housing for chronically homeless individuals, but we cannot let that stand in the way of helping the people who need us,” Hahn said. “Using motel rooms as interim housing allows us to help people off of the streets quickly and buys us time while we work to find them a long-term home.”
Hahn said the model has already been used effectively. In April, Caltrans ordered homeless individuals camped in the Whittier Greenbelt to leave the property. A local motel signed a master lease agreement with the county to provide dozens of rooms while caseworkers assisted with long-term solutions.
Many of those once camped in the Greenbelt have already moved into affordable or permanent supportive housing, according to Hahn.
The county often uses motel vouchers to help homeless individuals, but those rooms are normally secured one-by-one in a more time- and cost-intensive process.
“By leasing motel rooms in bulk across the county, we can quickly increase the number of interim housing units that we can offer to people as a comfortable, safe alternative to encampments,” Hahn said.
Adding sites to the county’s Safe Parking program would also give more people access to secure overnight parking where they can connect with services and caseworkers who can help them out of homelessness.
The goal is to find one motel to participate in each of the county’s eight geographic regions designated as Service Planning Areas by the Department of Public Health.
A report is expected back in 30 days.