Innovative Ways the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles is Working to End Veteran Homelessness
On any given night in Los Angeles, 46,874 people experience homelessness. That means 1 in every 215 people in LA are without a home, including 3,071 Veterans. At the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, we are committed to reducing those alarming numbers as quickly as possible. As part of an unprecedented collaboration with Home for Good and numerous city and county partners, we’ve committed 30% of our resources to serving people experiencing homelessness. That effort has yielded significant results. In the last six months, working in partnership with colleagues from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other local partners, we’ve leased to over 600 Veterans experiencing homelessness.
In order to achieve those results, we’ve had to think creatively about how we lower barriers for our landlords and for the people we serve that are experiencing homelessness. Here are some of the strategies we are using:
- We can pay more than Fair Market rent for Veterans: Prices for rent in Los Angeles are a huge barrier. We applied for an exception from HUD and can now pay up to $1,500 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. That has allowed us to move out of more challenged neighborhoods and into neighborhoods that are closer to the services that Veterans receive.
- We offer landlords a holding fee: Often, landlords don’t want to lose out on the rent they would receive while waiting for a unit to be approved. We can pay landlords, using funds from the city that are managed through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, to hold a unit for a Veteran while they go through the inspection and lease up process.
- We help landlords with repairs: We connect landlords to handymen who can quickly correct deficiencies that are identified in an inspection.
- We provide risk mitigation for landlords: We are working on implementing a claims process where landlords can submit reimbursement requests for damages tenants have caused at vacate.
- We provide Veterans with security deposit assistance: We have a fund set up through the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the VA to provide Veterans with help paying security deposits.
- We can connect Veterans to furnishings: United Way brought foundations together locally to launch Homes for Heroes to help supplement the costs for furnishings, major appliances, and other move-in needs. This has been a great way for the faith-based groups in Los Angeles to get involved in ending homelessness.
- We reach ineligible Veterans: We work with the VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families providers to refer to us Veterans they identify who are not eligible for VA services. Through that outreach, we’ve already housed 100 ineligible Veterans.
- We minimize interjurisdictional issues: Because the greater Los Angeles area is made up of so many different city and county jurisdictions, we have interjurisdictional agreements in place that simplify the process of clients moving between agencies. We also are continuing to build relationships with other PHAs in the area to share best practices. We have developed a joint application with our county housing authority so that our Veterans don’t have to fill out multiple sets of paperwork for city and county housing assistance as well.
Over the longer term, we are working on new strategies to increase our supply of permanent supportive housing for Veterans. For example, in addition to regular project based voucher NOFAs for new construction and rehabilitation projects, we have issued a new NOFA for existing residential structures, or units that can be converted to residential from other structure types such as motels and hospitals, to house homeless Veterans. We are particularly excited about this strategy because it dovetails with an initiative out of our City Attorney’s office to target nuisance motels.