Program offers LA homeowners money to build unit for homeless on their property

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a pilot program that would help the homeless population by paying some homeowners to build a housing unit on their property.

The program is known as the Granny Flats Motion and was approved unanimously by the board Tuesday afternoon. It would allow certain homeowners within a zoned area up to $75,000 to build a second dwelling on their property.

"This can be a way of putting a roof over a family or someone who was down-and-out, who was homeless," Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

Herb Smith, with the Los Angeles Mission, said he is among those who recommended the program.

"The need is astronomical. We have to think differently about how we house people in L.A.," he said. "We looked at a number of proposals on how to spend the new Measure H monies, and this was one that addresses the need for affordable housing."

It's designed to streamline the permitting process, along with providing technical assistance and incentives to homeowners. Regional Planning Deputy Director Mark Child said that for now there is only funding for two, no more than three homeowners to build a new unit.

But the plan, his team believes, can be more cost effective in the long run.

"There's a way to do this more cheaply so hopefully there'll be more built this way than would be if we were having to fund completely new units," he said.

The goal is to review its success and potentially expand the program. Ultimately, it can increase affordable housing options in Los Angeles County.

"We'll see what it looks like. We'll showcase it. We'll be able to get feedback from the public. Hopefully our regional planning and our departments here will look at how we can mass produce these in the future and do it quickly by cutting through red tape," Solis said.

This program is so new that county officials still need to figure out how interested homeowners can apply for the program. Right now, only people living in unincorporated parts of the county can qualify for the subsidies.
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