Homeless veterans will soon be housed in motels. The city of Los Angeles has devised an ingenious plan of procuring run-down, underutilized properties and convert them to create affordable housing.
Los Angeles will tackle the issue of homeless veterans by acquiring “nuisance” properties like motels and creating 500 permanent structures. The apartments will be renovated to ensure the vets have reliable housing. According to sources, there are about 2,700 homeless veterans in the county. These people need affordable housing, despite local and federal officials working to ensure such people have a roof over their head.
— Weingart Center (@WeingartCenter) May 25, 2016
The city has already approved a deal with nonprofit and private developers to acquire potential properties. Under the deal, developers are to look for underutilized, often run-down motels from private owners. Thereafter they will remodel or renovate the properties to convert them into efficiency apartments.
As expected, the properties won’t be big or spacious. However, since motels are designed with capacity and comfort in mind, multiple units can be quickly created with minimal construction. Moreover, properties like motels have a large common kitchen and sitting area which can be developed as communal eating and recreational spaces. Speaking about the transformation, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a written statement,
“Instead of allowing blighted properties to decay, let’s use them to make powerful change in our communities by giving our veterans the access to services and housing that they need and deserve.”
2015 was supposed to be the year Los Angeles ended homelessness among its military veterans. However, hundreds of people are still forced to hunt for decent houses, reported KPCC. Many still live in transitional housing systems, one of which is located at the West Los Angeles veterans’ campus. The problem is exacerbated owing to the advanced age and poor physical condition of the veterans. Many are restricted to their wheelchairs and have multiple health conditions that need medical attention.
— John J. Bauters (@JohnBauters) April 7, 2016
The city of Los Angeles has issued several government housing vouchers. However, many veterans complain that landlords aren’t willing to accept them and offer these old people a lease. Many among the veterans have been deployed to Vietnam and served in numerous military exercises. Despite holding a job, quite a few are struggling to find a place to live due to the ever increasing real estate prices.
Now the city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Additional funding is expected from Proposition 41. The bond measure had earlier directed $600 million in bond money to fund housing for poor and homeless veterans.
The vouchers will cover residents’ rent and even provide elementary supportive services, including case management and counseling, reported KTLA 5 News. These vouchers are good for 15 years.
Officials supporting the move said that it will dramatically cut the years that are spent wading through red tape that deals with financing homeless housing developments. They added that the apartments could be ready for homeless veterans to move-in, as soon as in January 2017. Surprisingly, landlords needn’t be sour about the arrangement since the deal is expected to enable landlords to turn a profit, reported Los Angeles Times.
Incidentally, the city has plans to develop the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus too. The area will be transformed into a residential community with hundreds of permanent housing units for homeless veterans. The plans include developing 1,200 permanent supportive housing units for disabled and traumatized veterans. Additionally, more than 700 short-term units will be created for homeless veterans.
Developing permanent supportive housing has always been a time consuming and cumbersome undertaking. Four to five years are typically spent in developing just 30 to 50 units. However, by converting motels and other nuisance properties, the city of Los Angeles can quickly extend housing to homeless veterans and ensure they have their own communities, preferably with medical facilities close by.
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