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Homeless in your backyard

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John Beagle View Drop Down
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    Posted: Apr 11 2018 at 11:24am
"Not in my backyard" protests helped block homeless housing in Temple City, delayed it in Boyle Heights and, last month, killed Orange County's plan to relocate homeless people to shelters.

Now, Los Angeles officials want to turn NIMBYism on its head — by paying property owners to put houses for homeless people in their backyards.

In August, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $550,000 pilot program to build a handful of small backyard houses, or upgrade illegally converted garages, for homeowners who agree to host a homeless person or family. Then in February, Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded L.A. a $100,000 Mayor's Challenge grant to study the feasibility of backyard homeless units within the city limits.

Rents under the county's pilot program would be covered by low-income vouchers, with tenants contributing 30% of their incomes. The county is also sponsoring a design competition, streamlining permits and providing technical aid and financing options.

While the idea of backyard homeless units might seem far-fetched, officials hope it could be a fast and relatively inexpensive way to house the most stable individuals among the 58,000 homeless people in L.A. County.

Spurred by state legislation in 2016 and 2017 that eased local review rules, the city and county are already experimenting with new financing options and low-cost materials and designs to promote so-called granny flats and in-law units as affordable housing.

A prototype backyard unit with financing and design sponsored by Mayor Eric Garcetti's Innovation Team is rising behind Trent Wolbe's house in rapidly gentrifying Highland Park.

"This is all about adding [housing] stock to a neighborhood that has gotten out of reach for everyone," said Wolbe, 35, a freelance creative director for tech companies.

L.A. city voters agreed to tax themselves $1.2 billion for homeless housing, but units can cost $350,000 apiece and are largely for disabled people. It will take years to reach the goal of 10,000 new apartments.

Local government could finance a homeless granny flat for three years for as little as $15,000 annually — roughly the cost of a shelter bed.

Backyard units expand housing options without compromising the character of the region's single-family neighborhoods, the mayor's design consultant said.

"People are looking at what they can do to make our neighborhoods more affordable and help more Angelenos find stable places to live," Garcetti said. "That's why [backyard units] are attracting so much interest — they're a relatively low-cost way for homeowners to play a big part in expanding our city's housing stock, and make some extra money while they're at it."

It's very early to gauge the possible scope of the backyard units for homeless people, but residents who have heard about it are intrigued.

About 100 of the 500 homeowners the county initially contacted responded with interest, and the county is in the process of whittling down 27 qualified applicants who are ready to build to a list of six finalists, according to a county document.

"We were overwhelmed with the interest," said Larry Newman, manager in the Economic and Housing Development Division of the county's Community Development Commission.

Providing backyard housing for homeless people won't be easy. Multnomah County, Ore., which includes Portland, ran into tax, liability and regulatory issues with its homeless granny flat pilot program, county Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Houndog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 15 2018 at 9:33pm
Humans are the only animal on earth who deal with 'homelessness'. All other animals simply make homes for themselves as needed. 
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