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Housing and Homelessness

Every Day, An Average Of Five Unhoused People Die In LA, Says The City Controller. And He Wants More Affordable Housing To Stop That.

The LA skyline as seen from Skid Row. There are tents lining the sidewalk next to parked cars.
"Enough of the debating. Enough of the studies. It’s time to actually act," says City Controller Ron Galperin on unhoused people dying on the streets.
(Ethan Ward
/
LAist)
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An average of five unhoused people are dying on the streets every day, and the long wait for affordable housing is part of the reason, according to L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin.

According to Sarah Ardalani, public information officer for the L.A. County Dept. of Medical-Examiner Coroner’s Office, 162 unhoused people died in April, a 35% increase compared with the same month last year. From January to April, there were 626 unhoused deaths, a 22% increase compared with the same time period last year,.

A report from L.A. County’s department of public health revealed the overall number of deaths among unhoused people increased by 56% from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021 compared with the same time period a year prior.

“This can be an important part of that picture,” said Galperin at a Wednesday press conference in South L.A. in response to the unhoused mortality report. “Enough of the debating. Enough of the studies. It’s time to actually act. We have the properties. And now we have the obligation to get our fellow Angelenos off the streets and into housing. This property is a perfect example of how we can do it.”

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Galperin, who is running for State Controller, released a report in January that recommended 26 city-owned properties that could be used immediately to provide 1.7 million square feet of space for interim housing. Those lots could be used for tiny home villages, safe parking lots or support facilities such as showers, restrooms and laundry.

The site of the press conference was a vacant lot that’s been owned by the city of L.A. for 28 years, according to Galperin. He said the roughly 400,000 square feet of space could make a difference to prevent people from dying.

The city of L.A. will spend roughly $3 billion over the next five years to develop as many as 16,000 beds or housing units for people experiencing homelessness. That's part of the city's settlement stemming from a March 2020 federal lawsuit over housing for people living on Skid Row.

a vacant plot of land in South LA that is littered with trash from a encampment for unhoused residents of Los Angeles. There is a paved road that runs through it along with street lamps.
One of the largest vacant lots in CD8 that can be used for immediate supportive housing. The surrounding area is mostly businesses.
(Ethan Ward
/
LAist )
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Spokespersons from various neighborhood councils have told LAist they are concerned about developing more housing in areas that are already congested, and the burden falling on lower-income communities such as South L.A. instead of wealthier communities.

What questions do you have about homelessness?
Ethan Ward for a time lived in his car while attending community college. That experience informs his reporting on one of the most pressing issues in Southern California.