by ELISSA SALAMY, The National Desk
WASHINGTON (TND) — According to watchdog group Open the Books, the city of Los Angeles dedicated $1.2 billion in 2016 to try and fight homelessness through building affordable housing units.
Since the program was approved, about 1,200 units have been completed - with some units costing taxpayers over $700,000 each, according to a city audit. One project currently underway is estimated to cost almost $837,000 per unit.
“The plan was to get the homeless people in Los Angeles into permanent housing to get them off the street and make no mistake, Los Angeles has a big problem when it comes to the homeless,” said Open The Books’ Adam Andrzejewski to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “In 2016, that $1.2 billion ordinance passed. It was a bond proposal for permanent housing for the homeless. And today, there are more people that are unhoused than ever before in the city of Los Angeles.”
While the homelessness crisis continues, Andrzejewski said a “bureaucratic culture” sprung up in the city.
“In city government, there are about 750 employees dedicated to housing and community development, and the top employee in that department makes more than a White House cabinet official,” said Andrzejewski.
According to polling by The Los Angeles Times and the L.A. Business Council Institute, nearly 40% of voters in the city feel “significantly unsafe”due to homelessness in their neighborhoods.
Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti said in February the program “is producing more units than promised, at a lower cost than expected."
“There are already 1,200 units online providing critical housing and services. And HHH will deliver over 10,300 units of supportive and affordable housing by 2026,” tweeted Garcetti.
“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,” according to a city audit.
Garcetti, who is in the final year of his second term, was nominated by President Joe Biden to become ambassador to India. His nomination was put on hold earlier this week by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, over his handling allegations of sexual harassment by his staff, according to Axios.
“We need to shine a white-hot spotlight on and hold folks accountable,” said Andrzejewski.