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To Reach Goals, L.A. Looks to New Ways to Build Homeless Housing

Los Angeles is grappling with the rising costs of building housing for homeless people. Rethinking the standard process is a way to save time and money.
October 11, 2018, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Kevin Hirai

Doug Smith reports that rising construction costs are threatening to deplete Proposition HHH funds. The 2016 bond measure provides $1.2 billion to build 10,000 housing units for the homeless in 10 years. However, progress is stalling as initial expected costs of $300,000 per unit have gone up to $500,000 in recent project proposals.

The citizens' committee overseeing these funds has started looking for more innovative ways to get the housing built quickly with the funding resources available. A proposal from FlyawayHomes suggested fully funding projects through loans, rather than partially funding them, to speed up completion. It also proposed designing units with shared common areas to bring down the cost.

Another proposal from Gensler outlined a micro-units plan incorporating shared kitchens and living room spaces instead of costlier individual units. "Cristian Ahumada, executive director of nonprofit developer Clifford Beers, offered ideas including long-term leases to remove land costs from capital budgets, removing parking requirements and creating a funding model for small developments," says Smith.

The committee will continue reviewing proposals this month and offer recommendations to the city council in November.

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Published on Monday, October 8, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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