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LA County will pay homeowners to build granny flats for the homeless

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It’s part of a pilot program seeking to address the growing homelessness crisis

View of backyard granny flat
Under a new pilot program, a handful of homeowners will be able to receive up to $75,000 to construct accessory dwelling units like this one.

A new Los Angeles County pilot program aimed at curbing the region’s spiking level of homelessness will connect a handful of homeowners with necessary resources to house the homeless themselves.

Under the program, approved Tuesday by the LA County Board of Supervisors, qualifying homeowners can receive up to $75,000 in funding—as well as a streamlined permitting process—to construct accessory dwelling units (otherwise known as granny flats or in-law units) on their properties. In return, they must agree to rent the units to formerly homeless individuals.

In a similar arrangement, homeowners who already have second units on their properties can apply for up to $50,000 in funding for necessary renovations to the dwellings.

So far, the county has only set aside $550,000 for the 18-month pilot project, limiting the number of homeowners that can benefit from the subsidies. But the program is mainly meant to assess the viability of accessory dwelling units as a solution to the growing homelessness crisis.

Adding relatively cheap new housing in the form of granny flats was one of the 47 strategies for combatting homelessness that the supervisors approved last year.

Part of the project’s $550,000 budget will fund an architectural competition seeking innovative new design proposals for such dwellings.

In other cities, like Chicago and New York, easy-to-produce micro homes have been proposed as viable options for homeless housing. The idea isn’t new to LA either, but finding available land for such projects can be tricky.

The county’s program seeks to gage how eager homeowners will be to provide new housing opportunities, literally, in their own backyards.