Audit of LA's homelessness measure shows cost per housing unit as much as $837,000

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Saturday, February 26, 2022
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A city audit of the $1.2 billion housing bond measure that Los Angeles voters approved 6 years ago shows that the longer it takes to build permanent housing funded by HHH, the more money it costs to build a single unit.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A city audit of the 1.2 billion dollar housing bond measure that Los Angeles voters approved 6 years ago shows the longer it takes to build permanent housing funded by HHH, the more money it costs to build a single unit.

Originally, the average cost to build a single apartment was $350,000 dollars. Now, it's close to $600,000 dollars per unit and some units will cost as much as $837-thousand dollars.

The audit also found that although 10-thousand units were promised, only 8,000 will be delivered and so far, only 1,042 of those units have been completed.

"It's bureaucracy. now, the city of Los Angeles is not underwriting the full cost of these units. However, these units are using money from the city, they're using money from the state, they're using tax credits. All sorts of different financing sources and it takes years to get all the financing in place. To get all the approvals from the city in place. The voters approved 1.2 billion dollars for bonds. so far, after all these years, the city has only issued 575 million of those bonds and has only spent, as of the last count about 350 million dollars of those bonds," said Ron Galperin, the Los Angeles City Controller who conducted the audit.

In a tweet, Mayor Eric Garcetti responded to the audit, saying: "Let's be clear: prop. HHH is producing more units than promised, at a lower cost than expected. there are already 1,200 units online providing critical housing and services. And HHH will deliver over 10,300 units of supportive and affordable housing by 2026."

The rising cost of building materials due to the pandemic hasn't helped, and the city's homeless crisis is only getting worse. The 2020 homeless count conducted before the pandemic found 41,000 people experiencing homelessness in the city of L.A.

"We talk about wanting more housing, but yet we make it more and more complicated on a statewide level and on a city level so surprise surprise, we have this crisis on our hands. It is imminently solvable. What it takes is political will and what it takes is a willingness to clear away a lot of the debris of the many rules and impediments that government itself has put in place," said Galperin.

One thing the audit doesn't do is suggest the city scraps HHH altogether, because thousands of units are under construction or in the beginning stages, just moving at a slow pace.