City Controller Ron Galperin and Mayor Eric Garcetti (Photo credit: Ron Galperin / Wikipedia and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
Los Angeles' $ 1.2 billion homelessness bond has done little to address the growing problem.
This is the grim assessment of City Controller Ron Galperin, whose audit published on Wednesday found that in the four years since the HHH proposal came into existence, with overwhelming support from voters, only three housing projects – 228 units in total – have been completed.
And that's despite the fact that $ 1.17 billion of the entire bond – or 98 percent – is earmarked for projects. The city now has 41,000 homeless, a number that was determined before the pandemic.
HHH's proposal was once thought to be instrumental in Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan to tackle homelessness.
"Almost four years have passed since voters approved Prop HHH and the need to rotate continues to grow," the controller's report said.
In particular, Galperin disagrees with Garcetti's focus on using Prop HHH funds for supportive living, a collective term that provides residents with access to services ranging from professional training to psychiatric care. Much of Galperin's 60-page report is devoted to the cost of supportive housing. The controller calculated that a supporting housing unit would cost $ 531,000 to develop.
Galperin said he would like the city to expand its efforts, begun during the coronavirus, to accommodate the homeless in underutilized hotels and to build more accommodation.
Also on Wednesday, the city council announced it would allocate $ 30 million in federal funding to the homeless, but withhold nearly $ 70 million more. Council Chairman Nury Martinez said the city's homelessness services agency must be held accountable for "having historically underperformed".
A message left in the mayor's office on Thursday was not returned immediately. A Garcetti spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the mayor's focus would continue to be on permanent housing, but did not say whether that meant moving forward with planned supportive housing projects.
Approximately 5,500 Supporting Units and 1,550 Non-Supporting Units are in the “pipeline”, with preliminary completion dates between next year and 2023.
The city's own data portal provides information about which affordable property developers have received orders from Prop HHH. Several contract recipients are Skid Row Housing Trust, Affirmed Housing Group and West Hollywood Community Housing.
While Galperin's report doesn't include these details, it questions the city's current regime, where only part of the project funding is given out so developers can bring in the rest.
Because of this structure, the report says, many projects are in "pre-development" – they are counted as in the homeless housing pipeline, but funding has not been provided.