Agency Tasked With Solving L.A. Homeless Crisis Discovers 3,000 Apartments ‘It Didn’t Know About’

The agency tasked with housing the homeless in Los Angeles recently discovered 3,000 apartment units they claim were unbeknownst to them.
According to Curbed Los Angeles, a ballot measure passed in 2016 has enabled the construction of over 5,700 apartments to help solve the L.A. homeless crisis. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the agency tasked with housing people, has been working to ascertain exactly how many empty apartments already exist. Heid Marston, interim director of LAHSA, told city supervisors on Tuesday that the agency “had recently discovered thousands of units of permanent supportive housing, both in the form of physical homes and rental subsidies, that hadn’t previously been inventoried in its resource management system.”.
“We have 3,000 units… that we didn’t know about in our system,” Marston told reporters. “They weren’t known to us. We can’t fill units that we don’t know about.”
Though not all the units discovered were vacant, Marston said that an accurate account of those units will better equip the agency to house the homeless, many of whom require vital services like counseling and healthcare. It takes an average of 10 months for a person in need of such housing to sign a lease. Curbed Los Angeles provided more information on LAHSA’s alleged incompetency with solving the problem:
The agency has repeatedly come under fire for a sometimes disorganized response to rising levels of homelessness across LA County. Former director Peter Lynn stepped down in December, less than four months after the release of a scathing report from Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin criticizing LAHSA’s record-keeping and ability to meet its own housing and outreach goals.
Marston said that the agency began working with affordable developers in December to identify units and housing subsidies that might have been overlooked. In a statement, she said this was part of a “new approach” to “refine” the way that LAHSA gets people into housing.
Marston admitted to reporters that LAHSA experienced a rocky start after a 2017 ballot measure freed up hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. “It can’t be understated the amount of capacity it took for not only our data systems, but our providers, to build up to a point where we could figure out what a new normal was,” she said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the number of people living on the streets, in vehicles, or in shelters steadily increased in the city throughout 2019, which followed a small decrease in the previous year.
“The annual point-in-time count, delivered to the Board of Supervisors, put the number of homeless people just shy of 59,000 countywide,” reported the outlet. “Within the city of Los Angeles, the number soared to more than 36,000, a 16% increase. And as in past years, most — about 75% — were living outside, fueling speculation of a growing public health crisis of rats and trash near homeless encampments downtown.”
Most recently, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that doctors should be allowed to prescribe housing like they prescribe medication.
“Health care and housing can no longer be divorced. After all, what’s more fundamental to a person’s well-being than a roof over their head?” Newsom said during his State of the State address. “Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for housing the same way they do for insulin or antibiotics.”
“Why not?” Newsom continued. “That’s the aim of CalAIM, transforming Medi-Cal as we know it, backed by a $695 million budget request to make this real.”
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