Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles taxpayers are shelling out as much as $837,000 per unit to provide a single homeless person with a newly-built residence as sprawling encampments continue to expand into virtually every neighborhood throughout the city.
Back in 2016, Los Angeles voters approved a $1.2 billion program aimed at quickly building new housing for the city’s burgeoning homeless population, the Associated Press reported.
An estimated 66,000 people, many of whom are mentally ill or addicted to drugs, are currently living on the streets of Los Angeles County, according to Bloomberg.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last year that he believed that number is actually higher – up to around 80,000 – since the onset of the pandemic.
The growing encampments are fraught with violence.
“We’ve seen it all,” local business owner John Calvo told KABC. “They defecate outside, people chasing each other with golf clubs, they like to fight against their [reflection] in the window, they broke my windows twice.”
The city has been “unable to meet the demands of the homeless crisis” despite the $1.2 billion program, Los Angeles Comptroller Ron Galperin said in a recent audit report, according to the Associated Press.
Galperin noted the pace of development has been sluggish and that the costs associated with the new residences has soared to “staggering heights” in many cases.
One construction project currently underway is expected to cost $837,000 per unit by the time it is complete, according to the audit.
“The cost of each unit continues to rise and the pace of construction remains inexcusably slow,” Galperin added, according to Bloomberg.
An estimated 1,200 new housing units have been built since the voter-approved spending bill passed in 2016, the Associated Press reported.
Fourteen percent of the units, most of which are one-bedroom or studio apartments, have cost more than $700,000 apiece to build.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the project as a win and claimed the taxpayer-funded program “is producing more units than promised, at a lower cost than expected,” the Associated Press reported.
“There are already 1,200 units online providing critical housing and services,” he said. “And [the program] will deliver over 10,300 units of supportive and affordable housing by 2026.”
The audit noted that a different approach and billions more in spending will be needed to house the homeless who have congregated in the city, the Associated Press reported.
“While future plans have not been finalized, building tens of thousands of additional units using the same model will likely cost billions of dollars and will take far too long to match the urgency of the ongoing homeless emergency,” Galperin wrote.
He said the city must “find ways to scale up faster and cheaper projects.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom has also funneled a record-breaking $12 billion in taxpayer dollars into the state’s homelessness programs over the course of the next two years, according to the Associated Press.