Nearly $72 million renewed for local homeless programs, $1.4 billion distributed nationwide
Federal housing officials Wednesday announced nearly $72 million in renewed funding for 227 homeless programs in the city and county of Los Angeles.
The grants are part of $1.4 billion in nationwide funding to help organizations continue to provide stable housing and services such as job training, mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment in the coming year.
“Over the last decade we’ve seen that when localities combine housing with supportive services, the results are fewer ambulance and police calls, fewer visits to the emergency room and, just as importantly, real savings for taxpayers,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a conference call with journalists.
The approach reflects an emerging consensus among advocates for the homeless that putting a permanent roof over people's heads must be the priority. But it remains controversial.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has complained about spending tax dollars to provide housing to individuals who continue to abuse drugs and avoid treatment, calling the approach "warehousing without healing."
“What we have learned, however, is that it really works in the reverse,” Donovan said. “That if you can get somebody stably housed with the services that they need, that they do much better and they are much more likely … to be able to get straight.”
California received the largest chunk of the funding renewals announced Wednesday: $227.6 million. Major beneficiaries in Los Angeles County, where more than 48,000 people are homeless on any given day, include A Community of Friends, the Hollywood Community Housing Corp., the county Department of Mental Health, the Salvation Army Southern California Division, the Skid Row Housing Trust, Southern California Alcohol and Drug Programs and SRO Housing Corp.
New grants will be announced later this year, Donovan said.
The announcement came as Los Angeles and other communities prepare to conduct a national count of the homeless next week. Donovan urged people to volunteer.
“Understanding the extent of the problem is absolutely essential to solving it, particularly given today’s tight fiscal environment,” he said.
-- Alexandra Zavis
Photo: George Givens, 63, now has a home in the Charles Cobb Apartments, which is run by the Skid Row Housing Trust, among the beneficiaries of renewed federal funding announced Wednesday. Givens, pictured at a recycling center he used to frequent, is among the chronic homeless targeted in recent efforts to provide housing and other services. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / Nov. 10, 2010