On Tuesday, March 20th, Los Angeles City Council Planning and Land Use Management Committee, Michael Arnold – Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA)- testified in opposition to the proposed Community Care Facilities Ordinance. This is what he had to say:
“Good Afternoon, Chairman Reyes and committee members. I am Michael Arnold, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the joint City County entity charged to design, fund and operate homeless and related social services that reduce and end homelessness. I am here today to urge you to reconsider the proposed changes before you.
We are completely aligned in believing that everyone has the right to peace and quiet enjoyment of their home. That said, our primary concern with the proposed changes in the ordinance is that it will increase homelessness in Los Angeles City while not addressing nuisance and bad behavior in neighborhoods. Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the nation and a critical shortage of affordable housing. This ordinance will make one of the most effective housing retention options for low income individuals, veterans and families illegal – shared housing in R1 and R2 zoned areas.
For example, an elderly woman who rents her home and provides housing for a student in driving her for medical appointments would be considered to be operating a “boarding or rooming house” and not permitted in low-density zones. Any form of sharing housing, except a single family unit, would be prohibited from doing so in R1 and R2 zones. Based on the American Communities Survey, in Los Angeles City alone, almost 50,000 low income households use shared housing to maintain a roof over their head.
The ordinance as currently written eliminates Federal and state housing support in shared housing arrangements in R1 and R2 zones. Section 8, Shelter plus Care, Mental Health Service Act, and Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing assistance programs require each recipient receiving housing assistance to have their own lease. For many, this is only way they can afford stable housing and is part of their treatment program. Shared housing is one of the least expensive housing models available to end homelessness and this ordinance severely restricts its use.
In addition, the Ordinance will displace mentally and physically disabled residents currently in R1 and R2 zoned shared housing, and stop the development of critically needed shared housing programs for homeless veterans.
The ordinance as currently proposed will reduce access to badly needed alcohol and drug abuse programs. Occupancy restrictions reducing the number of occupant residents in bedrooms to two in alcohol and drug abuse facilities, regardless of room size, will result in the loss of these valuable beds in Los Angeles City at a time when recovery programs are desperately needed.
The ordinance may jeopardize HUD funding to Los Angeles City. The City has an affirmative duty to develop policies and programs that further fair housing. We believe this ordinance is contrary to this requirement and places McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance programs, the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, Section 8 and Shelter Plus Care housing assistance programs, HOME dollars, Housing for People with Aids, and Community Development Block Grant funding at risk. The McKinney Vento program alone brings in over $60 million dollars a year for the City from HUD to address homelessness.
The ordinance will likely result in the City incurring protracted legal fees in its defense at a time when these funds are needed to maintain vital programs and services.
The Community Care Facilities Ordinance will not solve nuisance neighbors, but it will increase homelessness in Los Angeles. We cannot create additional barriers to housing for our most vulnerable City residents–our homeless men, women and children and still end homelessness. Thank you.”
Write and call your local representative and tell them to oppose the Community Care Facilities Ordinance! A sample letter is available through United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ “Advocate” page. To send a letter to your councilmember click here.