Homelessness and Children in the United States

By Rachelle Levitt

Article provided by HUD User

Image of Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R's Research Utilization Division.

Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R’s Research Utilization Division.

Recently, I learned that the television program Sesame Street is exploring homelessness and its effect on children. The show is reintroducing Lily, a 7-year-old who first joined the cast in 2011 as a character whose family didn’t consistently have enough food to eat. In a story arc that will be presented on YouTube, Lily’s family will come to Sesame Street to stay with friends after losing their apartment.

In a press release highlighting the importance of this issue, Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, said, “We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma — the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless.

HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Reports (AHARs) are an important tool for understanding homelessness in the United States. The report presents the results of the annual Point-in-Time Count, which tracks homelessness by providing a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness on one night during the last 10 days of January. According to the report, on that night in January 2018, HUD counted more than 111,000 homeless children, including 98,000 children served in programs for sheltering homeless families.

Another HUD report, Family Options Study: 3-Year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families, presents evidence highlighting the positive role that HUD housing assistance can have on the well-being of homeless families and children. Families participating in the Family Options Study were randomly assigned into groups following a stay of at least 7 days in an emergency shelter. Families in the group that received a permanent housing subsidy, often a Housing Choice Voucher, were less likely to be in a shelter in the 7-37 month period following assignment, the number of school absences for their children was lower after 20 months, and the number of behavior problems was lower 37 months after assignment than families that did not receive priority housing assistance.

HUD and other federal agencies also work with state and local partners on various programs to end homelessness that provide support to children and families. On July 13, 2018, HUD announced $43 million in grant funding through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program for 11 communities to use to end youth homelessness. HUD sought the input of young people experiencing homelessness when crafting every step of the program, from designing the demonstration to the actual application review process.

“Young people who are victims of abuse, family conflict, or aging out of foster care are especially vulnerable to homelessness,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a press release announcing the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. “We’re working with our local partners to support innovative new approaches to help young people find stable housing, break the cycle of homelessness and lead them on a path to self-sufficiency.”

Promisingly, the 2018 AHAR report notes that nationally, the number of homeless people in families with children counted that night declined by 2 percent, or 3,998 people, compared with the 2017 Point-in-Time count, and the number of homeless family households also declined by 2 percent, or 1,544 households. The count also found that more than half of all homeless people in families with children were in concentrated in four states, with nearly 30 percent of all people in families with children experiencing homelessness in New York alone. Between 2017 and 2018, 12 states saw increases in the number of people in families with children experiencing homelessness. The largest increases were in Massachusetts and Connecticut, each of which had more than 500 additional people in families experiencing homelessness in 2018 than in 2017.

Families with children and youth experiencing homelessness can continue to seek permanent and temporary assistance from HUD-funded programs. According to Sesame Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street hope that the storyline featuring Lily will “offer help and hope to the growing number of young children across the United States who are experiencing homelessness,” as well as “help mitigate the impact of the trauma and stigma that result from homelessness.” Although many HUD programs are working to meet the physical housing needs of children experiencing homelessness, I find it helpful that programs such as Sesame Street are raising public awareness of the issue.


Supportive Housing for a Diverse Community in the Bronx

Provided by HUD User

A seating area in front of a landscaped courtyard and multistory brick façade apartment building.

Walton House provides 89 units of affordable, supportive housing to the veteran and LGBT communities in the Bronx. It is the Jericho Project’s eighth supportive housing residence in New York City. Photo credit: James Shanks

When Walton House opened its doors in July 2018 in the Bronx, it launched a community that even its founders did not originally anticipate. Serving a mix of housing-insecure veterans and young adults (40 percent of whom identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), Walton House’s 89 units of affordable supportive housing provide a stable platform for helping people recover from past traumas and rebuild their lives. In addition to advancing the goals of the development team, the Jericho Project and B&B Urban, Walton House is the first supportive housing project to open under New York City’s 15/15 Initiative — a promise by the city, announced in late 2015, to develop 15,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years. Walton House is helping make that promise a reality to some of New York’s most vulnerable residents.

Project Details

The 89 studio apartments at Walton House are furnished and range from 300 to 450 square feet. Each unit features large windows, a kitchen, and a private bathroom compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of the total units, 56 are reserved for veterans and 33 are set aside for young adults. Because the young adult and veteran residents are likely to have differing schedules and value their respective communities, each floor consists solely of residents from the same group. However, shared amenities, including a wi-fi lounge, laundry facilities, a fitness center, an outdoor garden, and a library nook built by the nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental, help foster connections across and within groups. Each group also has a dedicated community room. In the veterans’ room, one group is working collectively on a mural, while video game consoles offer entertainment in the young adults’ room.

Image of a studio apartment with bed and small dining table.

One of the apartments at Walton House. Each unit features a large exterior-facing window and comes furnished. Photo credit: James Shanks

Every unit at Walton House comes with a project-based voucher to ensure that residents pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. The veterans’ units have U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers, which also support the services they receive. For the young adults’ units, Walton House receives project-based Section 8 vouchers awarded by the New York City Housing Authority. Supportive services for the young adults are funded through a $4.2 million services grant from the 15/15 Initiative distributed at a rate of $845,000 annually. Permanent financing for Walton House came from low-income housing tax credit equity of $14.3 million from Wells Fargo, a $9.5 million grant from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, a permanent loan of $5.6 million, a $4.4 million grant from the state’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, a $700,000 grant from Home Depot, and a $600,000 New York Federal Home Loan Bank grant.

Two Populations, One Community

The distinct needs and funding streams for the two groups mean that their eligibility requirements and services received differ. Veterans are referred to Walton House through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and must meet the requirements for VA health care, have experienced homelessness, and need case management to be eligible for the HUD-VASH voucher units. Young adults are referred by a number of city agencies and face less stringent requirements. For example, young adult residents do not need to have experienced literal homelessness; those who find shelter through couch surfing are eligible for units.

Image of books on shelves tucked under an apartment building staircase.

A partnership with Reading is Fundamental allowed for the installation of small informal library in one of the common areas of Walton House. Photo credit: James Shanks

Jericho Project partners with the local VA medical center to provide onsite supportive services for veterans, including case management (provided by VA) as well as a veterans services coordinator and a peer mentor employed by Jericho. An important component of the service model for young adults is access to counseling and therapy to aid with long-term stability. According to Tori Lyon, chief executive officer of Jericho Project, one of the major issues for the young adult population is the underlying trauma that first led to the housing instability. In both cases, Jericho’s strong belief in the importance of employment for building self-esteem, empowerment, and a sense of purpose guides its service provision, including career counseling and job placement services. Moving residents toward greater independence and away from more service-intensive living is the ultimate goal at Walton House, although Jericho, which operates under the Housing First model, imposes no time or age restrictions on residents.

Lyon says that one of the biggest surprises at Walton House has been the unexpected benefits of intergenerational living. She cites as one example the informal cooking classes taught by one of the veterans, herself a former Army cook. The young adults are doing more than learning to prepare healthy meals — they’re building relationships with adults who function as role models and mentors.

Walton House is Jericho Project’s eighth supportive housing development in New York City. The organization currently operates more than 500 units of supportive housing, primarily in the Bronx, and assists more than 2,500 children and adults — including 750 veterans — with housing, homelessness prevention, and workforce development each year. Although New York City has made significant strides toward addressing homelessness among veterans over the past several years, Lyon points out that the quick rent-up at Walton House, which look less than 2 months from its opening, demonstrates the ongoing need for affordable supportive housing.


Gayness

Reposted with permission from Luke Klipp, our Education Director

Lately I’ve been wondering, “why YIMBY?” As in, why do I not only care so much about cities, but also that others may also share in the experiences that they provide? And why are my blind spots so glaring (and what can I do about them)? A recent write-up by Strong Towns’ Chuck Marohn got me thinking about my own place and space, and why I keep coming back to caring about issues of urbanity, livability, sustainability, and opportunity. Why I keep sticking my neck out to argue for more housing, in an environment where that perspective is often treated with hostility.

And one thing keeps standing out for me: it’s because I’m gay.

If you’ll indulge me a few more paragraphs, I’d like to unpack this a bit.

My childhood was spent mostly in small-ish towns, in rural Wisconsin and Texas, before my family moved to the “big city” of Detroit when I was eight. Even in Detroit, my parents sent us to small religious schools where the words “everybody knows everybody” were spoken at least once any time prospective students and parents paid us a visit. It was a selling point, but for me it was also a prison. So it was that most of my youth was spent in places and spaces where I felt limited, hindered, and judged for who I was – even as most others didn’t even know the daily internal turmoil I felt.

What I desired then more than anything, after years in small schools and a childhood in small towns, was to escape. I craved anonymity, culture, and a place and space that I could be my own person without the constant judgment and derision of others. I knew that I was gay, and I wanted to be able to share that, but I did not want it to define or confine me.

For me, cities offered the things that I so strongly desired those many childhood nights when I felt utterly lonely and alone. They offered connection, freedom, and creative outlets. They offered friendships, relationships, and heartache. And they offered professional development, community engagement, and direction.

Thus it was that I intentionally chose a very large public university to get my bachelors degree and subsequently moved west to San Francisco to a place where my gayness was not a hindrance (if anything, it could be considered to have been an asset in the Bay Area). My subsequent move to Los Angeles was motivated primarily by love, but my fear of landing in a place not as urban as SF was quickly dispelled as I encountered an even more interesting, complex, and diverse city than any I’ve ever known.

All of which brings me back to the opening question: “Why YIMBY?” And the answer that keeps coming back is that, in the way that cities have offered me unparalleled opportunities for self-expression, growth, and challenges, so too do I hope others may be able to have those opportunities. In the way that my neighborhood has allowed me the ability to walk, bike, and take transit for many of my daily activities, so too do I want others to be able to have those opportunities. In the way that my home has been a grounding place for me and my family, so too do I want others to be able to have a home too.

My white male gayness leaves many blindspots in my understanding of the world, and of cities. That is something I can and do work to change, every day, understanding that who I am and where I’ve been will always come to bear on my decisions and worldview, even as I work to broaden it. Still, I do not ever foresee a time when I might actively seek to deny others the opportunities that have made my own life experiences possible. Even if it were to mean that a new apartment building would block part of my view, shade some of my sunshine, or make parking a little harder to find; I find more comfort in knowing that others have found a place to call home than that my own place is further embellished.

The good fortune I’ve found in my life is not for me alone. Being gay has taught me to seek out the vibrancy of cities, and the vibrancy of cities has taught me to keep the door open for others to be able to make their own way too. Being gay has taught me that, rather than seeing others as alien, it is incumbent on me to see them as family and to act from a place of love.


Homelessness and Children in the United States

Image of Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R's Research Utilization Division.

Rachelle Levitt, Director of PD&R’s Research Utilization Division.

Article provided by
HUD User

Recently, I learned that the television program Sesame Street is exploring homelessness and its effect on children. The show is reintroducing Lily, a 7-year-old who first joined the cast in 2011 as a character whose family didn’t consistently have enough food to eat. In a story arc that will be presented on YouTube, Lily’s family will come to Sesame Street to stay with friends after losing their apartment.

In a press release highlighting the importance of this issue, Sherrie Westin, president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, said, “We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma — the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless.

HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Reports (AHARs) are an important tool for understanding homelessness in the United States. The report presents the results of the annual Point-in-Time Count, which tracks homelessness by providing a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness on one night during the last 10 days of January. According to the report, on that night in January 2018, HUD counted more than 111,000 homeless children, including 98,000 children served in programs for sheltering homeless families.

Another HUD report, Family Options Study: 3-Year Impacts of Housing and Services Interventions for Homeless Families, presents evidence highlighting the positive role that HUD housing assistance can have on the well-being of homeless families and children. Families participating in the Family Options Study were randomly assigned into groups following a stay of at least 7 days in an emergency shelter. Families in the group that received a permanent housing subsidy, often a Housing Choice Voucher, were less likely to be in a shelter in the 7-37 month period following assignment, the number of school absences for their children was lower after 20 months, and the number of behavior problems was lower 37 months after assignment than families that did not receive priority housing assistance.

HUD and other federal agencies also work with state and local partners on various programs to end homelessness that provide support to children and families. On July 13, 2018, HUD announced $43 million in grant funding through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program for 11 communities to use to end youth homelessness. HUD sought the input of young people experiencing homelessness when crafting every step of the program, from designing the demonstration to the actual application review process.

“Young people who are victims of abuse, family conflict, or aging out of foster care are especially vulnerable to homelessness,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a press release announcing the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. “We’re working with our local partners to support innovative new approaches to help young people find stable housing, break the cycle of homelessness and lead them on a path to self-sufficiency.”

Promisingly, the 2018 AHAR report notes that nationally, the number of homeless people in families with children counted that night declined by 2 percent, or 3,998 people, compared with the 2017 Point-in-Time count, and the number of homeless family households also declined by 2 percent, or 1,544 households. The count also found that more than half of all homeless people in families with children were in concentrated in four states, with nearly 30 percent of all people in families with children experiencing homelessness in New York alone. Between 2017 and 2018, 12 states saw increases in the number of people in families with children experiencing homelessness. The largest increases were in Massachusetts and Connecticut, each of which had more than 500 additional people in families experiencing homelessness in 2018 than in 2017.

Families with children and youth experiencing homelessness can continue to seek permanent and temporary assistance from HUD-funded programs. According to Sesame Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street hope that the storyline featuring Lily will “offer help and hope to the growing number of young children across the United States who are experiencing homelessness,” as well as “help mitigate the impact of the trauma and stigma that result from homelessness.” Although many HUD programs are working to meet the physical housing needs of children experiencing homelessness, I find it helpful that programs such as Sesame Street are raising public awareness of the issue.



New Mission Page

Check out our new page describing the Mission and the Theory of Change of Abundant Housing LA!


Los Angeles has a crippling housing crisis.  The lack of affordability and the number of unhoused people sleeping in the streets every night (60,000 people across Los Angeles County) are a direct result of the fact that there are simply not enough homes in Los Angeles.  Rising rents bankrupt families, forcing them out of their homes. Housing is scarce near major job centers, pushing people into their cars, creating unbearable traffic and worsening climate change. The solution seems simple: build more homes all across Los Angeles. But the zoning laws in Los Angeles and much of California have restricted home building. Abundant Housing LA is a group of over 1,500 pro-housing Angelenos who passionately care about these interconnected issues. Our solution is to educate and advocate for 
homes for everyone.

Read more here!


Abundant Housing LA partners with CA YIMBY

Los Angeles Housing Advocacy Organization Leads Regional Efforts on Pro-Housing Education

Abundant Housing LA (AHLA) and California YIMBY have a new partnership to accelerate solutions to the housing crisis in Los Angeles County and throughout the state.

Together, we will work towards our shared goals of affordability, inclusiveness, and access to opportunity for all Californians.

With its focus on education about the benefits of housing at the local and regional level, we will deepen California YIMBY’s reach in the state’s largest metropolitan area. At the same time, AHLA will coordinate with California YIMBY’s state-level advocacy operations.

And the first thing California YIMBY is working on is getting the More HOMES Bill Act past the Senate Housing Committee.

We’ve always been focused on educating our members about housing on the local, regional, and state level. This new partnership couldn’t come at a better time – we’re scaling up our local work just as California YIMBY is focused on increasing impact with legislators in Sacramento. We’re excited by the new potential.

AHLA is continuing to build partnerships with groups across the region to educate the public, neighborhood councils, and our representatives about the necessity of more housing production.


Welcoming our new Managing Director, Leonora Camner

By Brent Gaisford

I’m so excited to announce that Leonora Camner is Abundant Housing LA’s Managing Director! We’re getting together to celebrate on the 28th, I hope everyone can make it. I couldn’t be prouder of all of us, and of her.

First, the reasons we all have to be proud.

This time two years ago we were a small group of people working to make LA a more affordable place to live. Now we’re a real organization, with funding and full-time leadership to help us do even more. We won an unbelievable competitive grant from LA 2050, we partnered and secured support from the biggest and most well-funded pro-housing group in the country (California YIMBY), and have begun to secure our own future with a member-funding model (if you missed it last week there is still time to join as a founding member).

More importantly than getting bigger – what we’re doing is working. The projects we support get built. After we talk to people they tend to understand the crisis and how to fix it. We’ve got thirty years of bad decisions to undo, but things are definitely getting better. It’s happening far too slowly, there’s no doubt about that. But every day there are more and more reasons to be optimistic, and we’ve got a lot to do with that.

I also couldn’t be prouder of Leonora.

She started volunteering with Abundant Housing more than two years ago as our Online Director. Just like the rest of us, she didn’t really know how to do the job. But she cared so much about the cause, and she was ready to take on something new. Within a few months, our weekly email was the most reliable and best thing coming out of Abundant Housing. That was just the first time – she’s done it again and again, taking on something new, figuring out how to do it, and getting it done. She’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met, and even more importantly she’s always excited to learn.

Leonora also cares incredibly deeply about the real, human impact of the housing crisis here in LA. She worked for the Eviction Defense Network last year, where she went to court every day to represent tenants who were facing eviction. It’s an incredibly hard job. One with far more heartbreak than triumph, but she did it anyway.

Taken all together, that’s why I feel sure that we’re in good hands going forward.

Organizationally, a couple of changes are happening. Leonora will be leading the organization day to day, building greater support for the growing network of AHLA volunteers. Her work will create even more space for people to take on leadership roles in their communities and across LA County in support of housing. I’m also stepping down from my position as Director. Instead I’m taking on the job of Board Chair, and working primarily on board recruitment and fundraising. If you’d like to help out with either of those, please holler, I surely could use it.

We had nearly two hundred people apply for this job. I think that interest is a real testament to the work we’ve all done and the organization we’ve built. I also think we found the best person for the job, and that’s a real testament to her. Welcome Leonora, we can’t wait to see where you take us!

Let’s welcome her in style on the evening of the 28th at Angel City – details here.


Do We Really Need All These Cars?

By Lindsay Sturman

Housing is more and more expensive, traffic is getting worse, and we have 12 years to save the planet. But there’s one solution that no one has tried that addresses all three: build a car-free neighborhood….and it comes for the low, low price of free.    

In the run-up to The Grove’s grand opening there was a raging debate over whether Los Angeles needed “another shopping mall,” with naysayers absolutely sure it would fail. Then it opened, and…boom! Families, teenagers, couples — people flocked there, and they stayed. They may have come for the Apple Store, but they stayed because there was something you couldn’t get anywhere else: a place you can walk and explore thanks to the fact there are no cars. Which meant you could let your kids run around. You could stroll and window shop – with no noise, no pollution, no fear of death. It was instantly beloved, a huge success, and a revelation. But sadly, it didn’t start a “car-free” revolution.

Sixteen years later, maybe we can.

It is self-evident that getting people out of cars is the key to addressing traffic and climate change. It can also have a huge impact on housing affordability. We all agree we want people out of cars, but we make it inconvenient, expensive, and dangerous to live without a car (to the point where drivers and elected officials are hostileto people trying to get out of their cars—look at the backlash against bike paths and scooters). We can flip the paradigm and diffuse the opposition by zoning an entire neighborhood to be car-free.

Gamla Stan, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden  Attribution: Aaron Zhu

Put simply, designate an area of the city to be a European-style neighborhood with no cars allowed — just sidewalks and bike paths — all within walking or biking distance to a Metro stop. We know these neighborhoods work because they exist all over the world. More than that, they are celebrated tourist destinations–think Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Venice, Italy. People actually payto spend time in car-free places.  

Cities around the world are inching towards fewer cars or outright banning cars — London, Oslo, Zurich and Paris are experimenting with car-free city centers – and finding that citizens don’t miss the traffic, noise, accidents, and pollution. It’s also good for business; business goes up when bike lanes and pedestrian plazas replace cars zooming by – because who wants to window shop along a freeway? And for those who wantan urban existence, car-free neighborhoods offer an amazing quality of life.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

The Plan for a Car-Free Neighborhood

Here’s how it could work in LA. Let’s start with an underutilized area of the city that is a candidate for redevelopment, and then change the footprint of the street to be car free— just sidewalks and bike paths (with room for emergency vehicles.) It can feel like the Venice Walk-Streets mixed with The Grove.

The new neighborhood must be located within walking or biking distance to public transportation, ideally a Metro stop.

After the city acquired the land it would be time to implement a new street design. Instead of the typical LA design of a wide street with parked cars and tons of wasted space, we’d go for narrow, walkable, and curving streets to create a sense of exploration and wonder.

Instead of this:   

How about this:

Photo by Raymond Tan on Unsplash

After the streets, it would be time to create lots. Every lot of the newly designed footprint would be pre-zoned for density and mixed-use: 4-7 stories of apartments above a ground floor of retail and businesses such as cafes, grocery stores, small businesses, and shops. Creating a dense street of stores and apartments means people can walk or bike to do the vast majority of their errands. It’s also what Jane Jacobs calls “sticky streets” – where people want to come, hang out, sit, stroll, and shop. This mix of businesses also provides local jobs which people can walk or bike to.

The neighborhood can be planned to include large and small parks, plazas, and a town square – places to gather and create community.

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

12% of Angelenos do not own a car.  We know that over 60% of millennials and 40% of boomers say they want to live in a walkable neighborhood. But we don’t make it possible, despite the fact that it’s better for the rest of us – better for businesses and the economy, better for traffic and better for the environment.

Creating Affordable Housing

Dense, mixed-use, car-free zoning also offers an opportunity to create naturally affordable housing.This is for several reasons — land cost of a building is spread over multiple units (as opposed to single-family homes on a huge lot). Revenue from first floor businesses can offset rents. Builders also aren’t paying for expensive underground parking (which can add $200 in rent per unit, not including the expense of owning a car — average cost of about $700/month). And compact apartments have substantially lower construction costs per unit.

Having the city pre-zone apartments can substantially reduce risk. Zoning battles and CEQA lawsuits from neighbors and NIMBYs can add years to get a project through the system – and the carrying costs can add another 5-10% to a project’s total cost. In addition, the risk of failuremust also be factored in: if a project doesn’t ultimately get approved, the builder can be out hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars. Multi-million dollar risk means only big developers can take on these projects, and big developers only build luxury units. So by eliminating the zoning risk, a wide variety of builders can enter the market – many of whom are more community focused, bringing new ideas and more altruistic values to our housing crisis.

By creating a flood of new housing options we can also help renters across the city. The lack of housing has driven up rents, so conversely the creation of thousands of units can stop the rise in rents, and even push rents back down. As supply increases, renters have more options, and landlords have to compete for tenants. Seattle has had a building boom and seen rents not just flatten – but seen rents go down.

What About the Cost?

Done right, a new walkable neighborhood can be built at no cost to tax-payers. Cities can opt to have outside investors buy the land and develop it; or the city can buy it themselves, re-do the street design, and then sell the lots to small builders. The city could make a substantial profit, and use a portion of that funding to subsidize affordable units to create an even more mixed-income community.

More benefits of building car-free neighborhoods:

  • Walkable neighborhoods are good for you and can prevent obesity and lower rates of heart disease.
  • Walkable neighborhoods lower crime and make cities more democratic.
  • Walking and biking are fun and lower depression.
  • Walkable neighborhoods are more accessible and offer more freedom to kids, people who can’t drive, the disabled, and the elderly.
  • Walkable neighborhoods are better for businesses.
  • No car accidents – we can achieve Vision Zero right off the bat.
  • No traffic.
  • We can address climate change at no cost to tax-payers – moving people into car-free living will instantly take cars off the streets. And it does not require Federal legislation that conservatives will resist; and it can scale up locally, nationally and even internationally.
  • It’s cheaper for cities: According to Jeff Speck, author of Walkability City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places, when someone drives a car it costs the city $9.20 in services like policing and ambulances because of all the accidents and emergencies. When they walk, it costs the city a penny.
  • Done right, car-free neighborhoods can attract tourists and create jobs.

LA is a city of dreamers and doers. If we can find the political will to do a pilot, test it, and see if it works, we could start a revolution. Just think about it: if LA— the ultimate city of cars—can go car-free, anyone can.

 


Become a Founding Member of AHLA

Update – Founding Member promotion has ended

Housing lovers / rent haters,

Two and a half years ago, when we launched Abundant Housing LA in the (now deceased) Pitfire Pizza in DTLA, we never could have imagined how much impact we would make so quickly. Thanks to the massive grassroots energy of our members, we have won major victories like defeating Measure S, passing Measures H and HHH, up-zoning the Expo Line TNP to allow  for more housing near transit, and fundamentally changed the conversation about housing affordability and scarcity in Los Angeles.

And we have done it all as a viral grassroots movement, with no staff and no budget. This organization has been member-driven from day one.
And now we are asking you, the members who make AHLA what it is, to help take our impact to the next level. 

We are up against some of the most powerful political forces in America. Michael Weinstein has used $20 million from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (that was supposed to be for HIV/AIDS care) to fight against new housing in just the last two years. NIMBYs have dominated local politics in LA and throughout California for two generations. There is a reason we are
millions of homes short of what we need – the system has been rigged against new housing by powerful entrenched interests for a very long time.
Times are changing now, in large part because of the work we are doing together. But we can’t take our game to the next level without more resources to do this work.

We have big plans for the next few years at AHLA. We recently incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization, and we are going to hire our first-ever staff member to help us continue to build this movement. We are going to build and support local chapters all over Los Angeles, and make sure that pro-housing voices have real power to make change.

Doing this requires money, and not just the few thousand dollars that a few of us have kicked in for our web tools and meetings so far. That’s why we are asking those of you who are passionate about our mission to become dues-paying members and help fuel the next chapter of our work.

Our goal is to launch this next phase of Abundant Housing with 200 dues-paying members in the next few months.

Can you join today and help us reach that goal?

We aren’t asking for big checks (although we’ll take them!) This is a grassroots movement, and we want your support at whatever level works for you. If you can do $10 or $20/month, that’s amazing. If you can do more, fantastic. If all you can give is a few bucks a year, we still want you
as a member fueling this work.

In addition, the first 200 members will be AHLA’s founding members. Founding Members will get exclusive Dingbat pins, as well as unique badges to recognize their OG status on our member forum – see below for more information on the forum and our more open communication system. Click here to see the different membership levels.

What does it mean to be a member? Because this is a mass movement, as an official member you will continue to have a vote and a say in the future of this organization. All members will be invited to our exclusive online forum where we do all of our work. We’ve been trialing the forum as the communication system for all of us volunteers who run the org for the last couple of months, and we’re excited to open it up to members as well so
that everyone can talk together. That will allow us to more openly discuss decisions, plans, interesting things happening in LA, or just have a good conversation. Members will also be able to vote on key decisions and organizational priorities throughout the year, and continue to be the backbone of our collective work together.

We are excited to build this next chapter of our movement together. Please become a Founding Member and join us today.

From all the volunteers at Abundant Housing, thank you!