This article was posted by NBC 4 Los Angeles on May 29, 2019.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to explore building affordable housing for veterans at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall downtown.
Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended a feasibility study on affordable housing in connection with a parking needs assessment already underway.
“As homelessness continues to grow, L.A. County is leading the way in identifying innovative solutions to this multifaceted crisis,” Solis said.
The hall, built in 1925 and located across the Santa Monica (10) Freeway from the Los Angeles Convention Center, is a hub for military and veterans services. It serves more than 30,000 visitors and holds 1,000-plus events annually, but only has 63 parking spaces in an adjacent lot between Lebanon and Flower streets, according to Solis.
“The One-Stop Veterans Service Center established at Patriotic Hall is a life-saving resource to veterans who are in need of assistance, but lack of parking at the hall makes access difficult to at-risk veterans who so desperately need these services,” said Stephen Peck, president and CEO of U.S. VETS.
Peck estimated that 10% of homeless veterans nationwide live on the streets and in shelters within Los Angeles County and hailed Solis’ suggestion to build affordable housing along with a parking structure.
On a separate motion by Supervisor Janice Hahn, the board backed a bill to streamline conversions of motels into supportive housing units.
“Converting motels into supportive housing should be a quick and cost-effective way to address our homelessness crisis — but stricter regulations often make these conversions more difficult and more expensive than other housing projects,” Hahn said.
The board voted its support for SB 450 authored by Sen. Thomas Umberg, D-Santa Ana, that would exempt such conversions from the California Environmental Quality Act.
Projects qualifying for exemptions under the bill would not increase the number of dwelling units and would make only minor alterations to the interior of the buildings to add cooking facilities and the provision of a hotplate or microwave to individual units.
“Our communities need more transitional and supportive housing to come as soon as possible, considering the state’s homelessness crisis. Too many families are staying in these motels because they cannot pass a credit check to lease an apartment, and as a result, they end up paying more to reside in a motel,” Umberg said.
“There is no single solution to tackling homelessness, but this gives local communities a sound option.”