Heading into Thanksgiving week, our focus tends to be on home, family and food. And not just our own homes and food, but how to support those in our community who are struggling with food and housing insecurity. So, in case you’ve missed any of these, we thought we’d pass along some of the recent information we’ve seen about resources, events, and developments in these two life-sustaining categories.
Seniors are among the groups most vulnerable to housing and food insecurity. Luckily, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has compiled a list of area food pantries supported by HopeNet, which are open to both seniors and others, and a list of Senior Nutrition Programs open to all seniors ages 60 and up.
Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Volunteeering
Thanksgiving is also a time when families often look for food-related volunteer opportunities, to help others have a good holiday meal, and to specifically involve children in that effort. For one great option, look no further than the Big Sunday organization’s 8th Annual Thanksgiving Stuffing Event, taking place this Wednesday, November 27, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Big Sunday headquarters, 6111 Melrose Ave. Volunteers of all ages, and from all walks of life, will be stuffing more than 3,000 bags of holiday food to distribute to grateful recipients around the city. In addition to stuffing bags, you can also sponsor a “completely stuffed Thanksgiving dinner” for just $35. If you would like to volunteer, sign up at the event link above (and yes, kids are welcome!)…and if you’d like more information, or to become a sponsor, contact [email protected].
It’s also hard to enjoy a good holiday meal if you have no home, so this also seems like a good time to provide some “In Case You Missed It” updates on city and local news, resources and other information about our current housing crisis.
Supportive Housing Goals
Back in March, 2018, L.A. City Council members voted unanimously to support a minimum of 222 supportive housing units in each of their council districts by July 1, 2020. (That would be 3,330 units in all, or about a third of the City’s goal of 10,000 such units.) The good news is that 9 of the 15 Council districts have already met or exceeded that target. The less good news is that our local CD 4 and CD 5 districts are not among them. With 7 months to go, CD 4 is currently at 75% of the target and CD 5 is currently at 45%, according to the Supportive Housing Tracker maintained by the United Way’s Everyone In organization. As both our our Council offices have noted, however, work is ongoing, there are still eight months to go before the deadline…and the fact that the goal has not been reached yet is not necessarily for lack of trying. In fact, our two districts are among the city’s hardest in which to find locations for city-sponsored supportive housing, because land in these area is among the most expensive in the city…and developers can and do outbid the city for suitable housing sites at almost every opportunity. Still, progress is being made, and you can check the tracking link above to see how well every district is doing with its pledges. Note, too, that these are only pledges…and the projects tracked here do not reflect the number of units currently under construction or open to residents.
In addition to the food resources noted above, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has also created a new Homeless Resources page , which provides a great deal of information on what to do and who to call for help with homeless individuals and/or camps in your area. Also, all this information and more is also available in a new tri-fold brochure you can download, post and share.
Renters Relief Program
If you’re a renter, live in a building built between October 2, 1978 and December 31, 2004 (which are not covered by the city’s rent control program), and your rent has increased by more than 8% this year, the City has created a new Renters Relief Program that can provide subsidies to help people in danger of being priced out of their homes. See the flier at the right for more information, and contacts to see if you qualify.
Housing Element Task Force
Over the next two years, the City of Los Angeles will be updating the Housing Element of the city’s General Plan (the Housing Element sets goals and guides planning for housing in the city for the next decade or so), and the Planning Department will be seeking public input on the new document. To be kept up to date on the process of developing the new Housing Element, you can sign up for e-mail updates…but if you’d like to get even more involved, you could also apply to be part of a stakeholder taskforce advising the Department on the new document. The task force will consist of “a diverse group of community leaders, special needs service providers, affordable and market-rate housing developers, and other housing and community development professionals,” and the application deadline is December 4.
Centralizing City Responsibility and Resources for Homelessness
Recognizing that one of the big problems with effectively addressing homeless in Los Angeles is that no one person or department is in charge of the rules, resources and other elements necessary to fight the problem, City Council Member David Ryu recently made several motions to treat the crisis as a crisis, and to help “centralize the identification, approval and development of homeless housing and resources within the Office of the Mayor.” Among other things, the proposals would “authorize the City Council to declare a Local Homelessness State of Emergency, vesting homelessness response authority to the Office of the Mayor. The Office of the Mayor would have the jurisdiction to identify homeless housing sites, re-zone parcels for the use of homeless housing, provide critical restroom and safe parking services, waive local code sections as needed to ensure expedited approval of any site, and command all the necessary agencies to work with one focus: Build homeless housing. ” The goal would be to keep housing projects from getting “bogged down under a myriad of approvals, overlapping agencies, and local backlash.”
More Recent Housing Motions
Adding to the other recent statements of urgency, City Council President Herb Wesson has also introduced motions that would require that any housing developed on city owned land must include 100% affordable units…and that the City create “anti-displacement zones” in which rent increases would be capped for three years within a two-mile radius of any new development that does not contain any affordable units. (Note that this would not affect most of the neighborhoods in our area that are experiencing the most new construction, since most of those projects are being developed under the City’s Transit Oriented Communities guidelines, which do mandate inclusion of at least a small number of affordable units – usually 10-11% of the building’s total.)
Also note that both Ryu’s and Wesson’s proposals are still very much in the exploratory phase, and will have a long way to go before they’re approved or finalized…but every new ordinance starts with such motions.