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L.A. County to invest $105 million to combat chronic homelessness

August 16, 2012 |  8:51 am

Homeless woman

Los Angeles County officials and private donors are announcing Thursday an ambitious new approach to the way they deal with the county's chronically homeless.

Public officials and donors are expected to announce a plan to spend $105 million to move more than 1,000 of the county's most entrenched street dwellers into permanent housing. Many suffer from serious physical, mental or substance abuse problems and have lived on the streets for more than a year. 

The funding includes public money already set aside for the homeless along with new donations from business and philanthropic groups. The plan calls for providing rental subsidies for 587 people for the next 15 years, development of more than 200 new housing units, and counseling, treatment and other services aimed at helping people stay off the streets permanently.

L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has called the plan a "more intelligent way to invest in the homeless," aimed at creating permanent solutions to the problem. 

The marshaling of money is the most concrete product yet of an ambitious plan launched by business and philanthropic leaders nearly two years ago with the goal of ending long-term and veteran homelessness in the county by 2016.

The Home for Good plan, an initiative of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, proposed reallocating about $230 million in existing resources each year to pay for permanent supportive housing, which includes counseling and treatment to help keep people off the streets.

They hope additional money and resources will be dedicated to the effort in coming years.

The approach was pioneered locally by the county's much-discussed Project 50 experiment and similar initiatives around the region, which have been praised not only for ending homelessness for many participants but also for saving municipalities money.

A county study found that Project 50, which began in late 2007 with the goal of housing the 50 most vulnerable, long-term homeless people on skid row, more than paid for itself, yielding a net savings of $238,700 over two years by cutting shelter, medical and jail costs.


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Photo: In July, a homeless woman walks away with her cartful of belongings that she had stored during the day at the corner of 3rd and Main streets. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times