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COMMUNITY REPORT: A success story in the fight against homelessness

Last year will be remembered as an extraordinary time in our city, a moment when Los Angeles put new energy and strength into our work to end the homelessness crisis.

The power of this movement came into focus at the close of the year when we opened a new permanent supportive housing complex in South L.A. — and I’ll stay inspired by the story of one of its newest residents, Jennifer King, for some time to come.

Not long ago, she was living in Skid Row after being forced onto the streets by an abusive marriage. She spoke of “endless nights of just trying to find a space on the concrete to lay my head,” and even then “not being able to sleep because you have to watch what little belongings you had and be prepared to protect yourself.”

But today, Jennifer has a new home at the Arlington Square Apartments, which have done more than put a roof over her head and a pillow under it. Her life is now back on track — with a job to go to, and an extended family through her residential community.

I’ll never stop working toward the day when Jennifer’s story is the norm, and I know that Angelenos are with me. Just over one year ago, voters said yes to building more permanent supportive housing by passing Measure HHH, which will deliver 10,000 new units and support facilities for unsheltered Angelenos. And a few months later, voters said yes to Measure H, unlocking $355 million annually to grow outreach and mental health services for our most vulnerable neighbors.

We broke ground on the first HHH-funded project in December, and we’re not stopping there. I recently signed into law an affordable housing linkage fee — passed unanimously by the City Council — that will help us double our production of affordable housing, and create more than 900 good-paying jobs every year.

There are more breakthroughs in the pipeline: a new permanent supportive housing ordinance that would shrink the pre-development timeline from five years to less than one year; and a hotel conversion ordinance which is going to help hotels and motels with under-utilized rooms quickly convert buildings into transitional housing.

The sooner we cut red tape that gets in the way of delivering more affordable housing, the sooner we will be cutting the red ribbon on new housing units for our brothers and sisters in need. As Jennifer put it on the day we met: “To those who continue to experience homelessness — you don’t have to stay on the streets. And to those of you who are housed, we share the … responsibility” to passionately drive this important work forward in 2018 and beyond.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column is a monthly feature of The Wave.

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