The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to greenlight a pilot program that pays select homeowners to build a second dwelling on their property that would be used to house the homeless. The motion was approved with a four-to-zero vote.
Qualifying homeowners in unincorporated communities are able to receive up to $75,000 to build a second dwelling in areas appropriately zoned. Other homeowners may qualify to receive $50,000 to be put towards updating and legalizing an existing dwelling.
The initiative was introduced in 2016 as part of Los Angeles County’s set of 47 strategies aimed at helping solve homelessness. Officers say the program will roll out slowly in an effort to test its long-term feasibility.
Richard Bruckner, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, said the initiative will begin to review and approve designs for these extra units, provide incentives for agreeing to construction, and promote the program to others.
The LA County program comes after the state passed a law lowering restrictions on building second units to help ease California’s rising homelessness rate. Unlike a guest house, which is common in many L.A. County backyards, a second dwelling includes a kitchen.
The groundbreaking program is expected to be completed within the next 18 months.
According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has approximately 118,000 homeless people on any given night. That’s the highest rate in the country and 30,000 more than second-place New York State. On the average night, Los Angeles has 47,000 homeless, or 40% of the state total.
To help alleviate the homeless problem in Los Angeles, the city and county voted in favor of two measures: Proposition HHH and Measure H.
Proposition HHH is a parcel tax that was approved by the city of Los Angeles in November. It is expected to raise $1.2 billion in bonds to be put towards the construction of 10,000 housing units.
Measure H is a quarter-cent sales tax and was approved by Los Angeles County voters in March to raise an estimated annual $355.0 million for the next 10 years to help the homeless transition into planned affordable housing.
“Agenda For The Regular Meeting Of The Board Of Supervisors County Of Los Angeles, California,” Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles, August 15, 2017.
“Recommendation To Approve Second Dwelling Unit Pilot Project Under Homeless Initiative Strategy F4: Second Dwelling Units Pilot Program,” Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, August 15, 2017.
“State Data and Contact Maps,” United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, last accessed August 16, 2017.