We recently hit a milestone in the West Valley as right now there are no people living in the 101 underpasses throughout the Third District. If you have been through an underpass recently you may have noticed new signs that prohibit camping in these locations. With these signs up, we are now able to better enforce the 41.18 anti-camping restrictions that became law last year. Enforcement will improve as workers and police receive additional training. Not too long ago, there were many unhoused people and tents, but they have been given shelter and both their suffering and local nuisances have been greatly reduced. This has been a longtime community goal, to provide better alternatives to sheltering under the 101. By creating those better alternatives, we are moving toward keeping these locations and other designated places clear and passable.
I’m continuing to grow services and housing opportunities to build on the unprecedented resources and humane laws on the books that are helping keep major public rights of way clear. I’d like to share where we are in the newest projects to address homelessness on the streets of the West Valley.
Our next step is creating more interim and permanent housing to bring people indoors, provide the services they need to stay off the street, and deliver solutions with urgency to address the crisis. Although about 20,000 people were brought indoors last year in the City, what we have done is not enough to meet the growing need. Building is not enough, we need to deal with all of the root causes.
Much more still needs to be done to help fill the gaps to do what we can to stop people from falling into homelessness and bring people indoors to get the help they need. With the recent announcement of a large state budget surplus, Governor Newsom made more funds available for converting hotels into housing. As I’ve written before, throughout the past few months city and county finance staff negotiated with hundreds of hotel owners to see who would be interested in selling their properties.
They submitted separate funding proposals to the state with the county’s package of nineteen potential sites throughout the region and the city’s proposal with nine more hotels to purchase. Two of these sites are in CD3, including the 818 Hotel and Extended Stay America on Ventura Blvd., which if funded, would serve families and seniors respectfully. The 818 is specifically for families because, in part, I pushed the County to designate it as such and the Extended Stay is for seniors because I amended the City’s proposal in committee to have that focus. And a third new apartment building is also being considered in Canoga Park for the next round of state funding.
As we’ve been talking about these two sites, I’ve heard several times from people who asked about how big the need is for homeless families and seniors in our district. Per the last LAHSA Homeless Count, there were over 100 homeless seniors in this district alone and another hundred people who were part of families (meaning folks who were homeless together with someone under the age of 18). But the reality is that they are often grossly under-counted as many are living in vehicles, in unregulated garage-type units, or temporary, and unstable living arrangements.
Just last week, my team and I got several people housed in one of our cabin communities including a 67 year old former local neighborhood councilmember who just lost his housing. He came to us asking what resources were available as he couldn’t afford an apartment with his limited social security check and was living in his vehicle. Without more ample housing for unhoused seniors, there are very few options right now for the many older Angelenos in his position.
Last year, as new funds became available for transitional housing, I helped build over 600 beds for homeless people in our district in Canoga Park, Reseda, and Tarzana. These beds were prioritized for local people on our streets and that is where many of the people who were at our underpasses went. This incredible progress is rooted in the fact that we created more beds in CD3 in 2021 than folks counted in the previous LAHSA Homeless Count. This year we are set to open 200 units of Prop HHH funded permanent supportive and affordable housing with more projects on the way.
As we find out more about funding for the Homekey sites and other projects in the West Valley, I will keep the community informed on all these projects in the Valley News Group as well as in my newsletter and on social media. Always feel free to send me questions and comments at [email protected] or call our district office at 818.774.4330.
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