LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles city officials are hailing voter approval Nov. 8 of a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund permanent housing for the chronically homeless.
Measure HHH will allow the city to sell bonds to finance as many as 10,000 housing units geared to homeless people who are difficult to house. The “permanent supportive housing” will include on-site health, mental health and substance abuse services and case management.
About 20 percent of the bond money could also be put toward low-income housing to help keep financially struggling Angelenos from sliding into homelessness.
“When we think of the 28,000 of our brothers and sisters who are sitting in the streets or their cars tonight, we are going to show them some home is on the way tomorrow in the city of L.A.,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said election night.
City Councilman Jose Huizar hailed voters for backing the bond issue.
“The citizens of Los Angeles recognize that homelessness is the moral dilemma of our generation and have entrusted in us to provide the housing HHH allows, along with the related services needed, to take a major step forward in addressing homelessness in the city of Los Angeles,” Huizar said. “It is now up to us to deliver on the promise of HHH and change the paradigm of homelessness for thousands of Angelenos from a feeling of hopelessness, pain and despair, to one of hope, joy and the opportunity for a better life.”
County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also weighed in, commending city voters “for recognizing the homeless crisis and stepping up to provide funding for permanent housing to restore dignity to those living in utter squalor.”
“With the passage of HHH, it’s now time for the county to step up to provide critical supportive services for the homeless,” he said.
Property owners will be on the hook for repaying the bonds. City officials estimate that the annual cost would be about $10 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value, if the debt is paid back over 29 years. The total debt, including interest, is estimated by city officials to be as much as $1.9 billion.
The $1.2 billion bond amount will be the biggest voters have ever authorized the city to issue. The largest thus far was $600 million to pay for citywide security improvements. Voters have also approved city bond measures to build public facilities for the library, police, fire department, animal shelters and the zoo, and to make seismic upgrades.
The bond measure, put forward by City Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Huizar, was placed on the ballot as homelessness in Los Angeles becomes harder to ignore.
The homeless population has increased steadily in recent years, rising by at least 5.2 percent in the last year. The signs of homelessness also became more visible after the courts struck down city laws and policies that had allowed authorities to more quickly remove homeless encampments.
City leaders last year vowed to tackle homelessness and spend about $100 million toward the effort. They estimate it will cost about $1.85 billion over a decade to adequately house and provide services to homeless people and families in Los Angeles. The latest count put the city’s homeless population at more than 28,000.