76.7 F
San Fernando
Friday, Aug 19, 2022
-Advertisement-

Homeless Get Temp Addresses

On a scale of 1 to 10, the Valley’s business community ranks the homelessness crisis as a 10, according to a recent survey by the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. And while business leaders largely support Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to build temporary home less shelters in each council district, they remain skeptical of the city’s overall ability to handle the issue. Of the 138 business people who took the VICA survey, nearly 62 percent responded “10” when asked to rate the homeless problem. Very few answered 1 through 5, with all responses in the lower half of the range totaling less than 3 percent. When asked how much homelessness has affected business, about 70 percent of the answers were clustered at the top, in the 7 to 10 range. Homelessness in the Valley is generally believed to be increasing, even though the number of homeless people countywide declined slightly to 53,000 in January, according to a count by Los Angeles County. Mark Neudroff, president of the Canoga Park Chamber of Commerce, said local business owners are concerned that homeless people often make customers, employees and business associates feel unsafe. In the Canoga Park area, many homeless people live in motor homes parked in front of commercial or industrial buildings such as the former Rocketdyne property at 6633 Canoga Ave., which was purchased by Canadian real estate conglomerate Triple Five Group Ltd. in April. “When a business person from Japan comes for a meeting and sees a guy lounging in front of a BBQ, how are they supposed to feel safe?” he asked. To address the homeless crisis, Garcetti in April allocated $20 million to construct emergency shelters and provide sanitation services in each of the city’s 15 council districts. Districts can only receive funds and services once they have approved a site to build a new shelter. The program’s goal is to temporarily house homeless Angelenos for up to three years. By that time the city aims to build enough permanent supportive housing for those staying in shelters. New housing development will be funded by Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure passed by voters in 2016. In the Valley, proposed shelter locations include 7621 Canoga Ave., a vacant County Department of Mental Health facility in Canoga Park; and 5161 Sepulveda Blvd., a former Army Reserve building in Sherman Oaks. Councilmember Paul Krekorian has identified five potential locations in his district to be used for “shelter, storage, navigation or other beneficial use to address the homelessness crisis.” They include 11220 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, 11231 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood, 12225 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, 11471 Chandler Blvd. in North Hollywood and 7600 Tyrone Ave. in Van Nuys. Proximity to business VICA’s survey respondents mostly support the city’s plan. Close to 66 percent either agreed or strongly agreed with the proposal. Only a little over 10 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. The rest were neutral or said they had questions. In addition, nearly 43 percent agreed or strongly agreed with placing a shelter within a half mile of their business. “People tend to think that folks in the Valley are more conservative and not as focused on these issues, but I think our survey shows that they do care and that this is something that every community across the city is facing,” VICA Chair Lisa Gritzner told the Business Journal. “As business leaders, we want to be part of the solution and we want to be engaged.” Still, many who responded to the anonymous survey voiced concerns about the shelter program, even if they supported it in principle. Safety, crime, sanitation and decreasing property values were among the main worries, in addition to unease over whether the shelters would attract more homeless people to Los Angeles. “California and L.A. are already attracting persons via unintended incentives,” wrote one respondent. “Adding homeless shelters will clear some of the problem from the streets, but the vacancy will be filled by an influx of new persons.” Some also feared the housing shelters may become permanent. “If there are temporary shelters, they are to be TEMPORARY,” wrote another. “These people need to WORK in productive jobs, NOT stand on freeway exits panhandling.” Neudroff with the Canoga Chamber said he wants more information on the program before deciding whether he supports it. But like the majority of survey respondents, he is unconvinced the city is properly handling the homelessness issue at large. Just 13 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the city is appropriately utilizing funding for homelessness, while 56 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. “Business needs to be a part of this process,” Neudroff said. “But the city has too often ignored the needs of business as they rush down the road to help these people because they just assume that business profits are going to be maintained regardless of what they decide, even if it impedes business.” He added that the local government shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing homelessness and that the business community is in many ways better equipped to find solutions. “They’re results-oriented where government agencies are not,” he said. Solution? When asked what should be done to tackle the issue, survey respondents answered to increase mental health services and vocational training as well building more permanent supportive or affordable housing. Alan Greenlee, chief executive of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, said the city is ramping up funding to meet its development goals. “The agencies in charge of distributing the money are going out and meeting with the development community three times a year,” said Greenlee, whose organization represents developers building housing for low-income and homeless people. “There are developments that are in the ground; units are coming online and the pipeline is filling.” As of April 4, $260 million in Prop HHH funding had been allocated for 24 projects that were in the predevelopment phase, according to the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (LAHCI). These projects represent 1,793 new units. And because of Measure H, a sales tax increase for homelessness services approved by voters last year, more than 7,400 homeless people in L.A. County have been placed in permanent housing and another 13,000 hundred have found temporary places to live, according to LAHCI. While these are encouraging signs, many Valley business owners feel the homeless crisis is only worsening. To fix the problem, most agree the business community needs to get involved. A total of 81 percent in the VICA survey said businesses should support existing homeless programs, provide workforce training, help develop affordable housing or find another solution. “It starts with recognition,” wrote one business owner. “This is OUR problem, not just something in downtown L.A. or wherever that THEY (politicians) should deal with.”

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-