Garcetti gives update on LA's homeless crisis, unveils new pilot program for Skid Row housing

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced two major updates on the city's efforts to combat the homelessness crisis.

At a Wednesday morning news press conference, Garcetti announced that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed city-sponsored legislation which protects transitional housing and low-income housing developments by the city of Los Angeles from lawsuits.

The move is expected to accelerate construction by as much as a year and a half, with up to $120 million in savings, according to Garcetti.

He also unveiled plans for a new pilot program which will aim to provide housing and services for 100 women living in the Skid Row area.

"With trauma-informed care, which is the right way to help them heal, cultural awareness training for Skid Row service providers and leadership, and because of what we know about the community on Skid Row, this will have a significant and (positive) disproportionate impact on black women who are experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles," Garcetti said.

The pilot program will be financed with $1.5 million from the state, pending approval from the city council.

The mayor's address comes as the city council on Tuesday approved the last round of funding, about $230 million, to build 34 permanent supportive housing projects funded through Proposition HHH.

In 2016, voters approved the ballot measure, which provided more than a $1 billion to fund the units.

The average cost of each unit is expected to be $502,000.

There are about 56,000 homeless residents in the city. Homelessness spiked 16% in the last year, and a recent audit by the city's controller's office reports the city is falling short on its goal to build 10,000 permanent supportive housing units by 2026.

But even as the city works to combat the growing homelessness crisis, progress can bring its own set of problems.

Neighbors of a new housing complex for the homeless in North Hollywood say the facility has brought more issues to the neighborhood.

"They're on the street, literally using the restroom on the streets," said North Hollywood resident Bernice Martinez. "It's really disgusting, it's really disturbing."

And costs for some of the projects have been high - the city controller has estimated it costs the city about half a million dollars per unit of housing.

"I will spend more sometimes to go faster, because of this crisis," Garcetti said. "So when we learn early on a shelter costs a little more, absolutely. But by the third or fourth one I expect those costs to be down and to be fast. And what's what we're experiencing now."
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