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L.A. Gets More Than $100 Million In Federal Grants To Fight Homelessness

Homeless encampments and people living in cars are up 20% from last year. (Photo by cyna79 via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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L.A.’s battle against homelessness got a huge boost this week, as it was announced that the Los Angeles City and County Continuum of Care (CoC) will receive nearly $105 million in new and renewed federal grants, reports KPCC. The grants come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and are part of the $1.95 billion that the Obama administration is offering to homeless assistance programs across the nation.

The funding will be spread out across a wide range of programs and agencies. According to a breakdown of funding provided by HUD, approximately $1.5 million will go to programs run by Community Housing Options at Independent Supported Sites, which helps find housing for people living with HIV and AIDS. More than $6 million will go towards the county’s Department of Mental Health. And more than $3 million will be awarded to programs offered by the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Housing Corporation, which assists homeless and low-income individuals on Skid Row.

Also, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which heads and helps coordinate the L.A. CoC programs, announced in a statement that it will receive two grants; $1.25 million to support its CoC planning efforts, as well as $500,000 to bolster its local homeless management information system. As Josh Decell, associate director of data integration at LAHSA tells LAist, the information system is used to keep track of the types of services that a homeless individual has obtained. He adds that LAHSA will be transitioning to new software that has "strong outreach modules."

"It'll be very mobile friendly," said Decell. "It helps keep track of where people are. Not everyone has a permanent address. So, if a housing space opens up, a service provider can use it to find and connect a person with the resource."

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Certainly, L.A.’s homeless issue is one that requires a multi-faceted approach. Aside from the federal grants that were announced, L.A. is also expected to get another $1.2 billion to fund permanent housing after Proposition HHH was passed in November.

The projects that will be built with the help of HHH, however, won’t be around for another three to five years, reports the L.A. Times. This is why some officials are taking a approach that focuses on rapid re-housing. Programs like the Department of Health Services’ “Housing for Health” relies on rent subsidies (pooled from private and county resources) to get the homeless into market-rate homes. Marc Trotz, director of Housing for Health, told the Times that while L.A. has a promising set of plans for the future, the issue is one that must be addressed immediately.

“A new housing project can take up to five years for completion. Five years of work and you create 100 units of housing. That’s not going to cut it. They open, you identify 100 people and that's great. And the buildings are great. But those opportunities are spread out over time. We need to be housing homeless people every day,” said Trotz, adding that “there is just not enough capacity there, realistically.”

The $105 million is a step up from the $84.2 million that L.A. got in federal grants in March. Earlier this year, city analysts drew up a report that said L.A. would have to spend nearly $2 billion over the next 10 years to make significant gains against homelessness.