Can We House The Homeless By Building Guest Homes In Your Backyard?

housing the homeless in Los Angeles

It's no secret that Los Angeles county has a homeless crisis. Over the last six years, homelessness in L.A. has surged by 75%, with more than 55,000 people sleeping on streets currently. Dozens of homeless camps have sprung up across the Southland following the deep recession from ten years ago that left many without options - especially as rents continue to skyrocket. 

And now, the L.A. Times reports that L.A. County officials are proposing a bold plan to help house the city's homeless by paying property homeowners to install houses, like 'Granny Flats' in their backyards. 

According to the proposal from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, a $550,000 pilot program was approved that would build a handful of small backyard homes as well as bring converted garages up to code for homeowners who agree to host a homeless person or family. 

The county's program got a boost in February after Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded Los Angeles a $100,000 grant to study the feasibility of building the structures to house the homeless. Rents would be covered by the county's pilot program through the use of low-income vouchers. Tenants would have to contribute at least 30% of their income to qualify to live in one of the houses. 

Officials say they hope the program could be used to house the most stable individuals among the more than 58,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. 

Meanwhile, Orange County says they will ask the military to extend the use of armories to continue housing the homeless there. Some homeless who were displaced from the Santa Ana riverbed and Civic Center after the county evicted them, have been staying there.  

The winter shelter programs at both the Santa Ana and Fullerton armories end on April 15th after the weather warms up, but the county has requested an additional 90 days so that the displaced homeless would have a place to sleep at night. 

A spokesman with the public affairs office for the California Military Department told the Orange County Register that they had approved the request and were waiting for a sign-off from the fire marshal. 

“My understanding is it’s been approved,” Lt. Col. Tom Keegan, the department’s director of public affairs said, adding that it shouldn't be an issue to get the fire marshal's approval. 

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