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Morning Brief: Another Attempt To House The Homeless Follows Years Of False Starts

A homeless encampment along the perimeter of the bridge housing complex being erected in Macarthur Park. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A.

Since well before the pandemic, L.A. has been struggling with an epic housing crisis — one that’s left many residents without a place to live. At last count, there were 66,433 people experiencing homelessness in the county.

Efforts to address the problem have been myriad, complicated and frequently bungled. But earlier this week, there was a sliver of good news: a community of tiny homes opened in North Hollywood, specifically to provide shelter to those in need.

The project, called the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village, has 40 units, each with two beds, heating and air-conditioning, a desk, and a front door that locks. Within the community, security is a top priority; video surveillance, a fence, and a guarded entry point have all been installed.

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The project’s goal is to serve as temporary housing, augmented by case managers who assist with mental health, job training, and housing support.

"I believe in a housing-first model, where we would move everybody into a home and apartment, permanent housing," said Ken Craft, the founder and CEO of Hope of the Valley.

It’s a visible step forward — if only for a small number of people — in a city that has struggled mightily to find a solution to the growing crisis. In the past two years alone, city and county officials and local nonprofits have experimented with government-funded campsites, vacant hotel rooms, empty parking lots, shelters in ritzy neighborhoods, homeless sweeps, new legislation, emergency shelters, accessory dwelling units, RV parks, prevention efforts, and more.

Still, the cost of rent and housing keeps rising, and more people are ending up on the streets. That connection, between the cost of housing and homelessness, is already a well-known reality for local officials.

"If we want to get to the heart of the issue, we have to bring rents down,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told KPCC/LAist reporter Emily Elena Dugdale in 2019.

We also have to bring wages up. A recent estimate from the nonprofit research group Economic Roundtable suggests that about 600,000 L.A. County residents spend 90% percent or more of their income on housing.

And yet ... and yet. It’s still difficult to ascertain who is in charge of managing the crisis. An FBI investigation found that an L.A. city councilmember accepted bribes to allow developers not to offer affordable housing. And of course, the pandemic stands to make the situation far worse.

In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done — in North Hollywood, one tiny house at a time.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of today's Morning Brief mistakenly said "some L.A. city councilmembers" accepted bribes to allow developers not to offer affordable housing. In fact, only former councilman José Huizar is facing such charges. Also, the same item mistakenly said there are 66,433 people experiencing homelessness in the city. That is, in fact, the number for all of L.A. County. LAist regrets the errors.

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