Los Angeles Spending Up To $837K To House One Homeless Person

LA homeless spending
The Erica Chang, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy

Los Angeles has dedicated $1.2 billion to a new program fighting homelessness, but instead of maximizing the budget’s impact, the city is spending up to $837,000 per unit to house homeless people.

An audit released by Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin shows that Proposition HHH, a ballot measure that issued a $1.2 billion bond to fight homelessness in 2016, has been an abject failure.

The audit states that “more people are unhoused today than when Prop. HHH passed in 2016.” Plagued by high costs and major delays, Proposition HHH has left taxpayers with a $1.2 billion bill, and even more homelessness. 

One of the most egregious parts of the report shows the cost of new units being built to house homeless residents. Most units being built are meant to accommodate one person.

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There is at least one building in the predevelopment phase that is expected to cost $837,000 per unit. Another 12 projects being planned or built are expected to cost more than $700,000 per unit, and another 41 will cost more than $600,000 per unit.

Despite the measure passing more than five years ago, only 18 projects have been completed so far. Another 65 projects are under construction and 27 projects are still in the predevelopment stage.

In response to ballooning costs and delays in completion, the city controller recommended that the city speed up the review process, acquire and convert existing buildings for housing, build interim housing using available funds, and reevaluate expensive or stalled projects before finalizing loans. Of these, the City of Los Angeles has only decided to implement the first two.

Apparently, reassessing out-of-control spending is too much to ask from Los Angeles.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

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