LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The three main housing agencies tasked with reducing homelessness in the Los Angeles area failed to spend nearly $150 million in federal grants between 2015 and 2020 and the money has been returned at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a newspaper report.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority returned more than $29 million to HUD during the six-year period, the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority returned more than $82 million, and the Los Angeles County Development Authority returned nearly $38 million.
LAHSA spokesman Ahmad Chapman told The Times that the agency operates “in a climate where the rental market is so hard to get into, it’s very difficult to utilize all of these resources.”
LAHSA programs manager Molly Rysman blamed the problem on what she called HUD’s “rigid” and “complex” funding system, which makes it difficult to spend funds quickly or reallocate funds that cannot be used for their original purpose.
“We’ve told HUD so many times,” she told the newspaper. “We need a lot more flexibility.”
The county housing authority cited insufficient viable housing units and client referrals, poor credit and tenancy histories among the homeless population, and program attrition.
The city’s housing authority told The Times that many landlords were unwilling to rent to homeless people, and also cited the city’s tight rental market and high turnover rates.
LAHSA has also come under scrutiny for how it conducts the city’s annual count of the homeless population. Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and three other council members called for a review of LAHSA’s role in solving the city’s homelessness crisis last week.
Martinez introduced two motions — one calling for options for a third party to conduct the city’s annual homeless count, and the other calling for a multi-year audit of LAHSA’s previous counts.
The Times reported on Saturday that LAHSA’s spreadsheet breaking down this year’s homeless count by each census tract in Los Angeles County showed there were no homeless people in the quarter. northwest of Venice, an area traditionally home to unusually high numbers of homeless people.
LAHSA didn’t specifically address that discrepancy, but Chapman acknowledged human and technological errors in this year’s tally.
“During the count, we received multiple reports of user and technology errors resulting from lack of training and poor internet connectivity,” he told The Times. “Despite these errors, we are confident in the accuracy of this year’s homeless count as LAHSA and its partners have taken several steps to account for what is happening on the ground.”