LA City Council Exploring Funding Rental Subsidies for 10,000 Homeless Individuals

Creation of “Housing Now” Program approved by lawmakers last month

By Sam Catanzaro

Los Angeles City Council recently approved the creation of a program that would provide rental subsidies coupled with supportive services for 10,000 homeless individuals. 

The “Housing Now” Program, proposed by Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the City’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee, was unanimously approved by LA City Council on September 21. 

Proposed as a collaboration between the City and County of Los Angeles, the Housing Now Fund would provide rental subsidies coupled with supportive services for an additional 10,000 homeless individuals, according to Ridley-Thomas. Specifically, the program would target those with complex medical and behavioral health needs who reside on City streets.  

“Successful street engagement depends on having a supply of affordable and supportive housing that is readily available to place unhoused clients without delay. We need to accelerate our investment in these long-term permanent housing solutions, if we want to make a difference in the lives of our unsheltered residents,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We need to work at the scale that this crisis requires.”

The State of California’s 2021-22 Budget includes $4.8 billion in new programs that predominantly focus on building permanent housing, but according to Ridley-Thomas “to fully take advantage of these capital investment opportunities, localities will need to supply rental or operating subsidies. The Housing Now Fund would complement the State’s proposed investment in order to bring thousands more Angelenos indoors.”

The Fund proposes a potential collaboration with the County, where the City provides the funding for the rental costs, and the County provides the supportive services to the housed clients through the Housing for Health model. 

“We have largely used it to leverage the existing housing market – to lease up in the private sector and to do it quickly with the housing stock that already exists,” said Interim Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, Cheri Todoroff. “It has also been used to spur the development of new housing for the developers who are doing it outside of the traditional process. As long as there is a commitment with the rental subsidy, there are some developers out there that will get their own financing and not rely on additional funding from the public sector to create permanent supportive housing.” 

A report back from the City’s Administrative Officer and Chief Legislative Analyst on the development of the Fund is anticipated to come before the Homeless and Poverty Committee within 60 days on the motion’s passage.

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