Panel touts affordable housing

first_imgOne member of the blue-ribbon panel, Gilbert Saldate of the Tri-Cities Mental Health Center, which serves Pomona, La Verne and Claremont, said members agreed on the overall goal but differed on how to achieve it. “Everybody wanted the same outcome – to see people off the streets. But there were different approaches to get there,” he said. “Today, everybody’s come together.” Local officials also urged that homelessness be recognized as a national issue. “The problem is an American problem,” said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Out in the courtyard of the Midnight Mission, the proposals were welcomed by Victoria Wilson, 23, a recently homeless pregnant woman who sat on a milk crate while watching her 2-year-old daughter, Kamille. “A job and child care,” Wilson said, were basic needs that go unfulfilled because a drug-possession conviction has thwarted her efforts to find work. “When it’s raining, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t sleep on the concrete,” she said. The report called for initially building at least 11,500 units of affordable housing for the homeless, with an eventual goal of 50,000 units. Enacting the blueprint’s recommendations would take an estimated $1.5 billion a year, said Mitchell Netburn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. Netburn, however, estimated that homelessness already costs about that much, when everything from emergency room visits to police overtime, jailing and lost tourism is factored into homeless services. The report recommended a mix of private, state, federal and local funding, including bond measures. Yaroslavsky warned against so-called not-in-my-back-yard efforts by communities to prevent homeless services from being established in their areas. “It’s not just Skid Row,” he said. “Every community has homeless in the streets, under bridges. Anybody who will be a NIMBY on this issue – shame on them. This is not a high-rise building. This is not a toxic waste dump. These are human beings.” Sheriff Lee Baca agreed, saying that county jails now serve as de facto temporary shelters for the homeless. “The wealthiest nation in the world cannot turn its back on its poorest citizens,” he said. A recent survey found that of the 88,000 homeless people on county streets on any given night, 9,254 are in the San Gabriel Valley and 7,178 are in Whittier, Norwalk, Downey, Santa Fe Springs, Montebello, Pico Rivera and other the nearby cities. Whittier City Councilman Owen Newcomer, a member of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Commission, said he is not opposed to having a homeless shelter located in the city. “A facility that helps people change their ways is an asset to a community,” he said. “We need more services. Mental health \ are critical.” Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, a member of the blue-ribbon panel, said he sees difficulties in getting the county and 88 cities to work together on the plan, particularly at a time when housing costs are rising. “The implementation of this plan is still in question because of the multi-jurisdictions involved,” he said. “It is a question of how quickly implementation can happen.” The Associated Press contributed to this story. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could end homelessness in 10 years by spending up to $12 billion for new affordable housing and for services to get people quickly off the streets, a panel of community leaders said Thursday.The blue-ribbon Bring L.A. Home panel made more than 200 recommendations tackling a problem estimated to involve more than 220,000 people cycling through homelessness each year, with more than 88,000 not having a place to sleep on any given night. The proposal, unveiled at a downtown Skid Row mission, was presented by officials as a road map for dealing with a problem that ensnares not just people who lose their jobs, but children, drug addicts, newly released prisoners, people who are HIV-positive and the mentally ill. The panel of 60 community leaders spent three years developing the recommendations. The ambitious plan hinges on a drastic increase in affordable housing, calling for the creation of at least 50,000 new units. last_img read more