Support the Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance

star apartments

Skid Row Housing Trust’s Star Apartments during construction

(see end of post for how to comment on draft ordinance)

The City of Los Angeles is seeking feedback on its draft Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance (read the FAQ and the draft ordinance).  The proposed rules would accelerate the approval of, and therefore the construction and inhabitation of, permanent supportive housing for homeless residents. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is housing for homeless individuals or households that is not time-limited (that is, unlike many shelters, residents can stay there as long as they need to) and that includes services to help residents.

Abundant Housing LA strongly supports this ordinance. We supported and campaigned for City of LA Proposition HHH to fund the construction of more permanent supportive homes as well as LA County Measure H to fund services. We also happy that LA City has started to identify underutilized public properties as opportunity sites for permanent supportive and/or affordable housing.

Funding for PSH, more money for services, and free public land on which to build PSH could be a very powerful combination to help house homeless Angelenos. More supportive homes are badly needed given that last year homelessness increased 23 percent in LA County and 20 percent in LA city.

Unfortunately, these positive investments can be bogged down by local opposition to new permanent supportive housing. Our politicized planning system allows a few opponents to delay or veto badly needed homes even when large majorities of voters supported funding for more housing and services. This is why the Permanent Supportive Housing Ordinance is a good law.

1. The ordinance raises the site plan review threshold for PSH from 50 units to 120 units (and 200 in downtown LA).  This means that larger PSH projects could proceed without needing to go through an environmental review process, require approval from the City Planning Commission and City Council, or face legal challenges and delays under CEQA.  Making more PSH projects ‘by right’ will help them get built quicker and help get more Angelenos off of the streets into good housing.
2. Instead of a politicized process, where people who already have homes can go to meetings and try to stop new dwellings for the homeless, the PSH ordinance requires common sense standards for design and construction. For example, the ordinance mandates how much space is required to be dedicated for services and common space in a PSH development; and requires testing and mitigation of soil if the site was previously used by a polluting industry.
3. The ordinance grant permanent supportive housing projects incentives similar to what are available for density bonus and transit oriented communities developments (higher density limits and height, reduced parking requirements and setbacks, etc. These incentives will help house more Angelenos, a vital goal given the city and region’s surging homelessness.
4. Allowing developments of permanent supportive housing on sites zoned public facilities using the zoning of nearby property, and allowing conversion/ replacement of residential hotels to permanent supportive housing regardless of underlying zoning are other good features to expedite badly-needed housing.

The City is seeking comments on the draft ordinance. To have your input considered for the planning staff recommendation report, contact cally.hardy@lacity.org by October 30, 2017. If you have comments after the 30th, email the planning commission at cpc@lacity.org

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