County and local governments are at the forefront of our housing and homelessness crisis and are best able to work with housing developers to reduce the extreme cost of building affordable and supportive housing, which currently stands around $600,000 per unit. By reducing red tape, expediting the permitting and approval process, and combating the “not in my back yard” attitude (or NIMBYism), which promotes the denial of the much-needed housing in our local neighborhoods, County and City governments can create an atmosphere that promotes the construction of housing to meet current demand.
Great first steps were taken by our legislature and the City of LA by passing AB 1197 (Santiago), where we saw community foundations, non-profit builders, supportive service providers, and the business community work side by side with civic leaders to find a workable, yet time-sensitive solution to our growing housing crisis. The implementation of this piece of legislation would stretch the existing voter supported Measure H and give way to the “housing first model.” In doing so, the housing first model would have the ability to assist in the reduction of homelessness and provide wrap-around services while also addressing the mental health component of the current crisis.
Additionally, once an individual experiencing poverty has a roof over their head, they need sufficient employment and earning capacity to begin reinvesting in themselves. County government should partner with the business community to promote and invest in all aspects of workforce development; ultimately, strengthening college access, career technical training, industry-specific apprenticeships, and career retraining while also breaking down barriers to opportunity faced by our most vulnerable residents.
Lastly, let’s not push more people into poverty. While protecting our environment and moving towards a more sustainable region is an important and ambitious goal, local governments should not sacrifice jobs in efforts to singularly pursue a green economy through local governments’ sustainability plans which call for the phase-out fossil of fuels eliminating thousands of middle-class jobs.