A report by Los Angeles’ city controller found that 2016’s Proposition HHH—a $1.2 billion housing program aimed at creating 10,000 housing units for the homeless—is moving at too slow a rate to successfully address homelessness in the city.
In a Feb. 23 report, Controller Ron Galperin said the program’s “problems overshadow the progress.” So far, the program has built 1,142 units—or 16 percent of the intended number—in nearly six years, while 4,205 units are currently in construction and the remaining 1,880 are in pre-development.
“Although Los Angeles has made some progress with Proposition HHH, it hasn’t been enough,” Galperin said. “The costs are too high and the pace is too slow to address the tragedy on our streets.”
Galperin said each housing unit cost an average of nearly $600,000 last year—up from $530,000 in 2020. Nearly 14 percent of units cost over $700,000, with the highest one coming in at $837,000.
Galperin also said most projects take between three and six years to finish, and that over half the units will not be ready for occupancy for another two to four years.
This timeline is too slow, Galperin said, to keep up with the city’s rapidly growing homeless population, which saw an approximate 40 percent increase from 28,464 people in 2016 (pdf) to 41,290 people in 2020.
The controller also previously raised concerns about the program’s cost and pace in his 2019 and 2020 reports on the program.
In the previous reports, Galperin urged officials to speed up the project’s timeline by shortening the review process and converting existing buildings to housing instead of building from scratch.
He also advised the city to reallocate funds to lower-cost projects and focus investment on interim housing solutions over permanent housing creations.
Since then, the city has implemented some of his recommendations; however, the city has not used Proposition HHH funds for interim housing and shelter as Galperin recommended.
In this year’s report, Galperin doubled down on his previous recommendations, saying that “the city has started implementing two of four major changes recommended in the controller’s previous reports, but more urgency is needed now and in the future.”
“My recommendations to improve HHH will make a difference now and should serve as a guide for future homeless housing programs,” Galperin said. “If the city doesn’t learn from its mistakes, it risks repeating them. Angelenos, sheltered and unsheltered, cannot afford that to happen.”
Ann Sewill, general manager of the LA’s Housing Department, reportedly said in response that Proposition HHH is only one part of the city’s overall solution to address homelessness, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sewill said that the program is on track to meet its goals, and that the best thing to do is to “complete the program and deliver more units … to fulfill the commitment that the city made as part of the HHH promise.”
On the same day of the controller’s report, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti touted Proposition HHH’s progress.
“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,” Garcetti wrote on Twitter. “HHH has increased our production of supportive housing by almost 600 [percent] from 300 to 2,000 per year. I thank all of our partners for continuing to support our vision of housing all Angelenos in need.”
The 2022 homeless count is currently underway and results are expected in the coming months.