Three LA homeless agencies failed to spend $150 million in federal grants

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According to reports over the weekend, three Los Angeles County homeless agencies tasked with reducing homelessness in the Los Angeles area failed to spend about $150 million in federal grants between 2015 and 2020, a figure which would have contributed to reducing homelessness for a significant number of people.

Rather than spend the money, the three agencies in question simply returned it to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This included the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) returning $29 million to HUD, the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) returning $38 million, and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) returning $82 million. dollars to the federal government. agency.

Crackdowns on homeless encampments and the reduction of areas in which they can legally camp have increased in recent years, with the Los Angeles City Council passing ordinances banning encampments in many public spaces ranging from sidewalks to nearby schools, as well as street biking. repairs and where motorhomes can park. At the same time, the number of new shelters and housing units for the homeless has also been exceeded, creating more accommodation options for the homeless despite the city’s crackdown. The end of programs such as project room key, which gave homeless people hotel rooms to use during the COVID-19 pandemic, has at the same time increased the need for lodging space in Los Angeles. All together, this created a situation where every penny of federal funds would be needed.

“The agency is operating in a climate where the rental market is so difficult to access, it’s very difficult to utilize all of these resources,” noted LAHSA spokesman Ahmad Chapman.

LAHSA program manager Molly Rysman added that the problem is due to HUD’s “rigid and complex funding system, which makes it difficult to spend funds quickly or reallocate funds that cannot be used for their purpose.” initial. We’ve said that over and over again at HUD. We need a lot more flexibility.

$150 million unspent

However, many in LA County are increasingly frustrated with agencieswith local legislators Split as to spending more money on more direct programs, or continuing to go through organizations like LAHSA, which were receiving federal funds. Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield has been one of those in favor of LAHSA’s shift to a more hands-on approach to the city.

“Los Angeles has recently been working to build on our city’s homeless response system,” Blumenfield said over the weekend. At this point, we were already doing the work and should be looking at what it takes to bring homeless services in-house. Many of us build our own pilot programs. Our regional homelessness system is too big in my opinion and it does not meet our local needs.

LAHSA and the other two agencies leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table also upset many homeless people in the county, who said the agencies should have compromised and used as much funding as possible.

“They’re trying to say that we don’t all understand the realities they’re facing and how they can’t spend it all,” said Jax, a homeless advocate in Los Angeles who also helps homeless people find jobs. food and shelter. “I challenge anyone from these agencies to come and explain to us here that they weren’t able to spend, what, $150 million? Tell the guy in the box. Tell the woman living in a tent who sleeps with fear every night that. If you tell any of them that ‘Well HUD needs to be more flexible’, they will be booed.

“What we really need is help. Pure and simple. And none of us care about the ‘flexibility’ or ‘complexities’ involved. That $150 million could have helped a lot of us. It might have saved some who didn’t make it. It’s not on the HUD. It’s on them.

Rulings on whether the cities and county should further separate themselves from the three agencies are expected in the near future.

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