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Mayor Garcetti Is Hoping This Program Will Create 50K Homeless Housing Units In Angelenos' Backyards

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Los Angeles has a new proposal for homeless housing that is literally in Angelenos' backyards.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg Philanthropies donated $1 million to Los Angeles to help residents convert their garages into so-called Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs. The program, slated to begin next spring, will grant homeowners between $10,000 and $30,000 toward construction and permit costs LA's if they agree to let the units be used to keep people off the streets for three to five years.

Homeowners would receive the money in the form of tax breaks or reduced permitting fees; their homeless tenants would be provided with rental assistance through the L.A. Homeless Services Authority.

"People come up all the time and say, 'What can I do personally?'" L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told KPCC's Take Two in an interview this week. "There's 500,000 single-family homes. We're hoping ten percent will build these. It will be 50,000 new units of housing."

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LA EXPLAINED: Why does L.A. have so many homeless people?

ADUs were illegal in California until last year when Governor Jerry Brown approved them as a way to help solve the state's housing affordability crisis. Since they were legalized, Garcetti said the city has seen a ten-fold increase in ADU building in the last year and a half; 2,800 ADUs were built in L.A. in 2017, and he expects another 3,600 to be built by the end of 2018.

The city program follows a similar pilot project approved by Los Angeles County in August.

"We thought, what a great way to add to the many strategies that we have to try to end homelessness in L.A. to try to match folks who are building these units with folks who are coming off the streets," Garcetti said, adding that those who will live in the newly converted ADUS "are not the deepest, neediest to serve with mental health issues but families and others that maybe had a layoff or some bad economic times and are looking for housing."

Part of the new program will include a matchmaking system to pair individuals who are building the new units with the people who would like to live in them.

Garcetti said the new ADU program will be funded in part with the $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, along with a portion of the $85 million the city received from the state last weekto help end homelessness.

The $1 million Bloomberg grant was part of its Mayor's Challenge to help cities combat their most pressing problems. And in L.A., one of those is homelessness. On any given night in the city, roughly 23,000 Angelenos go to sleep without a roof over their heads, according to the mayor's office.

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Editor's note: Listen to the radio version of this story here on KPCC's Take Two.

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