POV: Point of View

Housing the Homeless

Oct 2013

Working with developers of affordable housing like AMCAL and Thomas Safran Associates (TSA), we have had exceptional opportunities to help address some of the more difficult housing problems facing our communities. While it is always a pleasure to see low income working families or seniors on tightly restricted budgets move into comfortable, secure new homes, working with special needs residents and providing a home to the homeless is a special joy.

 Most experts agree that to reduce the numbers of chronically homeless people, the best solution is Permanent Supportive Housing. This unique type of development combines subsidized housing with social services – including case management, healthcare and counseling for mental illness and addiction disease. This gives the chronically homeless the ability to break through the cycles of poor job skills, and mental and physical disabilities.

Los Angeles has the highest street homeless population in the nation. The majority of these individuals experience homelessness for a relatively brief period of time. However, approximately 10% of this group – the chronically homeless – are best helped with Permanent Supportive Housing.

Our society needs a strategy that recognizes the tremendous costs that the taxpayers and the government bear by leaving their chronic homeless populations on the streets. These costs include emergency room visits, stays in hospital and mental wards, and interactions with law enforcement. It actually costs no more to house a chronically homeless individual in permanent supportive housing as it does to allow that person to remain on the streets.

That’s one reason we are especially proud of our recent work with TSA at Del Rey Square, where 31 formerly homeless civilians and veterans now have an apartment and the services they need and Avenida Villas for AMCAL, now home to adults and transitional age youth with mental illnesses, which was recently named Project of the Year at the 31st Annual Affordable Housing Awards.