Community Local News News West Edition

Inglewood needs more affordable housing, officials say

INGLEWOOD — More low-income and affordable housing, along with additional emergency shelters have been identified as key resources needed to end homelessness in Inglewood and Greater Los Angeles County.

“I think continuing the approach that Inglewood is taking by opening more permanent supportive housing … continuing to bring shelters online and creating affordable housing opportunities for people is the right approach,” said Heidi Marston, interim executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, better known as LAHSA. 

Marston is referring to the recent Fairview Heights Apartments groundbreaking, which will be an affordable and supportive apartment complex on county-owned land on East Redondo Boulevard in Inglewood. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said all 100 apartments, which are scheduled to be completed in late 2021, will be affordable. Half will be for people who have experienced homelessness, the other half for people earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income.  

The location is within walking distance of the Crenshaw/LAX Line Fairview Heights Station.

According to officials, funding for the $53 million project comes from a variety of sources including $11.5 million from the Los Angeles County Development Authority and Measure H funds.

Meanwhile, dozens of volunteers like Brandon Myers gathered at Inglewood City Hall Jan. 22, for Inglewood’s 2020 homeless count.

“Anybody can be homeless,” said Myers, who has lived in Inglewood for the past eight years. “It’s just a blessing to be able to be on the other side and be able to count and hopefully do something about the situation.

“There’s no question that we’re in the crisis of our lifetime, especially in Los Angeles. Homelessness is more visible than we’ve seen it perhaps ever and at the same time we’re seeing our homeless system perform better and better over every year,” Marston said. “What we’re learning is that there are more people falling into homelessness than we’re able to get out every year.” 

The count is important because it determines how LAHSA will design medical and mental health programs and allocate resources to help people and cities like Inglewood experiencing homelessness. 

“We have individuals out there who served in our services, who are suffering with mental issues,” Myers said. “There’s a mental health issue, as well as the lack of affordable housing but when you talk about the lack of affordable housing, the individual has to be able to afford the housing, so if they have no jobs, no opportunities to afford that, then how are they supposed to have that housing.”

According to LAHSA, 150 people a day fell into homelessness in 2019. Only, 130 people a day were housed, meaning officials are not able to keep pace and help everyone.

In 2018, 510 homeless people were counted in Inglewood.  In 2019, that number dropped to 461 homeless people in Inglewood. 

Across L.A. County, homelessness rose 12% to 58,936 people in 2019, when compared to 52,765 homeless people counted in 2018.

“The count is not a perfect science … there’s a lot of factors that can influence the count on any given night, keep in mind this is one night of the entire year so it doesn’t represent the ebbs and flows of the population we see,” Marston said. 

Inglewood Police homeless liaison Cinder Eller-Kimbell told volunteers that what they were doing matters.

She shared the story of a man who was homeless for nearly 20 years in Inglewood but with proper resources was placed in permanent housing. 

“It’s been seven years. He’s housed now. Thank God. Each year, he comes back and he helps how we helped him,” Kimbell said. 

Myers now has that same spirit of helping and giving back to his homeless neighbors.

“We know it’s there … and it’s not going anywhere until we as Americans choose to do something about it,” Myers said. 

By John W. Davis

Contributing Writer