According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, in 2017 there were 57,794 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County. That was a 23% increase compared with the 2016 homeless count (46,874 homeless in 2016).
Local government agencies are trying to address the situation from several angles: placing social workers on subways(outreach to homeless riders), taxpayer money from two ballot measures(which still leaves an estimated $73-million annual shortfall in funding for the county’s comprehensive homelessness program), motel conversion and steamlining the approval process for homeless projects, among other things.
Now the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is considering paying property owners to put “units” for homeless people in their backyards. Seriously.
Gale Holland reports for the LA Times: “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.”
Read the whole LA Times article here.
The appeal of backyard units is that they don’t “compromise the character” of neighborhoods, per the mayor’s office. The units would have plumbing and cooking facilities.
Apparently homeowners would be incentivized through tax payer dollars and feel like they are offering solutions to the homeless problem. “We were overwhelmed with the interest,” said Larry Newman, manager in the Economic and Housing Development Division of the county’s Community Development Commission.
I can only assume that any homeowner who does this will face an increase in their insurance premiums: Your liability coverage would need to increase if you participated in this program.
Also, I have a few other questions:
- Who will pay for the background check of the homeowner’s new tenant(s)?
- Will the homeowner be allowed to write off their “rental” expenses on their tax returns?
- Will the increase in one’s home value (additional square footage/livable area by a new unit on the property) increase their property taxes?
- Will the homeowner be personally responsible for any purposefully-inflicted injury that a homeless “tenant” may commit while on their property?
- How many people on the county Board of Supervisors are going to put homeless units in their backyards?