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LA picks developers to build homeless housing, but it might not all be for the homeless

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500 units coming to Lincoln Heights, the Westside, and Sunland-Tujunga

In February, Los Angeles city officials approved a nearly $2 billion plan to tackle LA’s massive homeless problem. A key part of that plan is to construct housing, and to facilitate that, the city will allow developers to build on land that it owns. The Los Angeles Times reports that LA has now chosen four firms to construct about 500 units of housing on nine parcels.

The parcels are scattered throughout LA; five lots in Lincoln Heights will be combined for the construction of one project, while the others are located in Sunland-Tujunga, Marina del Rey, Sawtelle, and Venice. They’ll be developed by GTM Holdings and WORKS, LA Family Housing and Many Mansions, Thomas Safran and Associates, and Hollywood Community Housing and Venice Community Housing Corporation.

Another lot in South LA hasn’t yet been matched with a developer.

Interestingly, the Times notes that the city has backed away from a requirement that the new projects include supportive housing—buildings that offer on-site services and case managers for residents transitioning out of homelessness. City Administrator Miguel Santana has recommended that affordable housing, mixed income housing, and even affordable condos could be included in the projects as well.

That’s a bit concerning in light of a recent report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to Congress indicating that Los Angeles leads all cities with the highest number of chronically homeless individuals—those who experience frequent or prolonged homelessness because of a disabling condition. In fact, the report found that more than 12,000 LA residents are chronically homeless, compared to just 3,230 in second-place New York.

Supportive housing is crucial in assisting those with chronic patterns of homelessness, or those at risk of chronic homelessness, get off the streets for good—as HUD has noted in previous plans and reports.

According to the Times, Santana expanded the list of eligible housing types so that developers could better tailor their projects to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. It’s not an entirely trivial concern, as local resistance to new low-income housing has derailed projects in the past.

City officials are hoping construction on the new developments will get underway by summer. If voters should approve the anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative in March, however, some projects could be delayed for a couple of years.