Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperinreleased a reportin September that claims if the costs to build Proposition HHH-funded permanent supportive housing aren’t reduced, delays will continue, prices for materials will rise, and the city’s homeless population will increase.
“Nearly four years after voters approved spending a billion-plus dollars to reduce homelessness, only three new housing projects are open and most won’t begin welcoming homeless Angelenos for two, three or even four more years,” Galperin said. “Meanwhile, the crisis has gotten far worse, compounded by pressing COVID-19 health and safety concerns.
“To truly reduce homelessness as L.A. voters intended, the city must meet the moment by pivoting to an action plan that will house more people right away. We cannot stay the course when people are dying every day on our streets.”
Cost Per Unit Jumped to $559,000
Galperin said that since 2019, the average per-unit cost of Prop. HHH projects in pre-development increased from $507,000 to nearly $559,000, with the highest per-unit cost jumping from $700,000 to $746,000. One-third of these units cost more than $600,000, and the highest total cost for a single project exceeds $76 million.
Galperin’s report is titled “Meeting the Moment: An Action Plan to Advance Prop. HHH,” and it examines how Los Angeles has used the voter-approved $1.2 billion bond program to reduce homelessness by creating about 10,000 units of housing, along with interim shelters and storage facilities.
As of the publication of the LA city controller’s report on Proposition HHH on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, these three HHH projects have been completed. (Image from the LA city controller’s HHH report)
Galperin first scrutinized Prop. HHH funds in October and recommended reallocating funds to lower-cost projects and cutting red tape to speed up permitting. But since then, homelessness has risen in Los Angeles to more than 41,000 people, and many people have died on the streets, including 865 as of the end of August, which is 30% more than the same period last year, Galperin said.
The controller said some communities, particularly Los Angeles’ Black and Native American populations, are disproportionately affected by homelessness and are not getting the help they need with Prop. HHH.
Galperin called on city leaders to adopt a short-term action plan to utilize the remaining bond funds and provide more immediate relief to people experiencing homelessness.
Prop. HHH projects are currently taking between three and six years to complete and some developers have asked for extensions ranging from 42 days to more than a year.
Galperin said at this pace, about 80% of all units will not open until 2022 or later. Even when every Prop. HHH unit is built, tens of thousands of Angelenos will still lack a roof over their heads, he said.
Reallocate to More Low-Cost Projects
The controller said he urged the city to explore reallocating funds to lower-cost projects and to better use the remaining $30 million in Prop. HHH funds, along with any additional money returned from unsuccessful projects.
This would include building more interim housing and facilities to rapidly get thousands of people off the streets while supportive units are built to meet health, hygiene, sanitation and storage needs for the unhoused population.
Galperin said the city should also repurpose existing buildings like hotels and motels as well as unused commercial and office space that could be far cheaper and faster to convert into homeless housing.
Additionally, Galperin’s office created a website with graphs and interactive maps showing the cost and status of the city’s 111 Prop. HHH projects.
Users can click on a pin to view information about each project, including the developer’s name, the cost, the development status and the total and per-unit Prop. HHH amount associated with it. Click here for the website.