L.A. Care, Health Net Spending $114M on County's Homeless Problem

Homeless man

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - L.A. Care Health Plan and Health Net today announced an investment of approximately $114 million over five years to help address the homelessness crisis by securing more housing units in the private rental market.

The money will bolster the county's efforts to secure leases on as many as 1,900 housing units and pay for vacancy coverage, damage repair, trash services, greenspace, maintenance and pest control. It will also help the county identify people experiencing homelessness who require assistance with daily living, to move into permanent housing. Each year, the county receives permanent and time-limited housing vouchers through a combination of local, state and federal funding. A recent study by Abt Associates in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation found that only 65% of people issued a voucher are able to lease a unit, a process that took an average of 122 days, which was the report said was due to L.A.'s ``tight'' rental market and alleged landlord discrimination against voucher holders, many of whom are people of color.

``When people experiencing homelessness try to use their rental vouchers in the private housing market, they often contend with unaffordable rent, tough competition, and historic and systemic housing discrimination,'' Supervisor Hilda Solis said. ``We've entered into this collaboration with L.A. Care and Health Net during a moment of urgency, but it will expand our housing portfolio over the long term and maximize the use of federal and local rental vouchers to bring people indoors.''

The investment will enable the county to create assessment teams that will visit shelters and other interim housing sites to identify people with ADL needs, as well as connecting them with caregiver help in interim or permanent housing.

``Housing is critical for good health. This collaboration will help address housing inequities, which have resulted in health inequities, and it will make the voucher system more effective,'' L.A. Care CEO John Baackes said.

``Securing rental units in advance will ensure vouchers are able to be used and will cut down on the long wait times. At the same time, it will give landlords a long-term funding commitment.'' Martha Santana-Chin, Medi-Cal president at Health Net, said the company was ``proud to take part in this critical initiative, which will continue to increase access to housing for people experiencing homelessness. Together we aim to improve access to whole-person care services for vulnerable Angelenos.''

The funding is the result of the state's Housing and Homelessness Incentive Program, which the state launched with the help of matching funds from the American Rescue Plan. HHIP is a voluntary incentive program allowing Medi-Cal managed care plans to earn incentive funds for making progress in addressing homelessness and housing insecurity as social determinants of health.

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