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City Councilmembers vow to fight NIMBYs, build homeless housing in every district

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“It is the humane thing to do”

Modular Housing Units Used For Homeless Shelters On L.A.'s Skid Row
In the city of Los Angeles, nearly 34,200 people experience homelessness on a given night.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Los Angeles City Councilmembers pledged Tuesday to build at least 222 units of permanent supportive housing in each of their 15 districts over the next three years.

If they can accomplish that goal, they’ll bring 3,330 supportive housing units to “every corner” of the city by July 2020.

“We can no longer afford to build [homeless housing] only in communities of color,” said councilmember Nury Martinez, who represents portions of the San Fernando Valley. “It needs to be done across our city, and everyone needs to bear the burden of having to house people for the very reason that it is the humane thing to do.”

Funding shouldn’t be a problem. In 2016, voters passed Measure HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure to finance the construction of 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing over 10 years. Supportive housing typically comes with on-site services, such as case managers and physical and mental health care.

“The voters have given us something that’s very rare: a clear mandate in overwhelming numbers,” said councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents sections of Central Los Angeles, from Hollywood to Echo Park.

Several councilmembers said NIMBYs will likely be the biggest obstacle to getting the housing built—but they vowed to stand up to neighborhood protests.

“Let’s not cave in to the loud few in the district,” said councilmember Paul Krekorian, who also represents parts of the Valley.

Councilmember Paul Koretz said constituents in his district, which stretches from Hollywood to Bel Air, would be the most likely to fight homeless housing, but he said he wouldn’t cave to their objections.

“I’m 100 percent committed,” he said.

The resolution adopted Tuesday includes any supportive housing constructed since July 2017, and several councilmembers said they were already on their way to meeting the goal.

The pledge is only a public promise. Councilmembers said they needed to make it because voters had already stepped up by voting to tax themselves—and the homelessness crisis is escalating.

In the city of Los Angeles, nearly 34,200 people experience homelessness on a given night, according to the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. That’s up 20 percent over 2016.

“What we’re doing is trying to create the optics that this will occur,” said council president Council President Herb Wesson.