LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics.

Unsurprisingly, LA is also home to a speculator-driven real-estate bubble (badly exacerbated by Airbnb), which has placed affordable housing outside of the reach of many Californians, and put a third of the county into housing precarity, with more than half their income going to basic shelter. In 2018, a rent-control ballot initiative triggered the most expensive anti- campaign in the history of American ballot measures, supplemented with dirty tricks campaigns from landlords, who are increasingly dominated by giant hedge funds who have created a new foreclosure playbook that is putting record numbers of people on the street (or in their cars).

Writing in the LA Times, Steve Lopez launches a blistering attack on the city and county's failure to address this problem, blaming a combination of tardiness, slowness, NIMBYism, and grift. For example, the city has almost completely failed to advance its plans to turn about 100 unused city properties into housing — years later, only a few of them are in the planning phase and no development work has started on any of them.

The last election did see the passage of Measure HHH, which allocated millions for homelessness programs, but that money has either gone unspent or misspent (new apartments built with HHH money have cost as much as $500K). In the meantime, new numbers released by the county this week put the total homeless population in LA County at 60,000, with homelessness up 7% in homelessness among seniors, and 24% in young people (nearly a quarter of students at one Pacoima elementary school are homeless).

The new numbers should be a wakeup call. Homelessness isn't just a blight, it's not just a public health problem — it's also an indictment of the city, its residents and its leadership. Homelessness is a human tragedy, and LA is ground zero for that tragedy.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan for temporary shelters in every neighborhood has been met with neighborhood push-back, and it hasn't helped that projected costs for those facilities have soared beyond original estimates.
How California's big plans to address housing affordability crashed

The plan for every council district to build 200-plus units of supportive housing is inexcusably behind schedule.

The process for building housing with voter-approved millions from Measure HHH is maddeningly slow and the cost per unit — as high as $500,000 or more — screams out for a new model.

A few years ago, roughly 100 unused or under-utilized city-owned properties were identified as potential sites for housing. Only about a dozen of them made it to the planning stage, and none of them have been developed.

Homelessness in L.A. is a catastrophe in motion, and our leaders are largely to blame [Steve Lopez/LA Times]

(via Naked Capitalism)