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LA To Convert Run-Down Motels Into Apartments For Homeless Veterans

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The city of Los Angeles has approved a deal that will allow nonprofit and private developers to convert “nuisance” motels into permanent, supportive apartments for 500 homeless veterans.

The Free Thought Project reports:

City officials consider the development a major accomplishment in the drive to create large-scale housing for the estimated 2,700 homeless veterans in Los Angeles County. The plan calls for developers to purchase crime ridden, often run down motels from private owners in an effort to convert them into efficiency apartments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It’s estimated that nationally between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year, and that on any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S.

According to the report in the LA Times:

The city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will cover residents’ rent and provide supportive services, including case management and counseling.

Further financing is expected to come from the state’s Proposition 41, which directed $600 million in bond money to fund housing for poor and homeless veterans.

The novel plan is expected to short-circuit the years of red tape and financing issues that often delay homeless housing developments and have the apartments ready to open by January, officials said. The vouchers are good for 15 years, and the deal is expected to enable landlords to turn a profit…

The city’s housing authority on Thursday awarded 400 rent vouchers to Shangri-La Construction, a unit of Shangri-La Industries, founded by Hollywood producer Steve Bing, and Step Up on Second, a nonprofit homeless housing agency. The team has 60 days to secure sites.

“Instead of allowing blighted properties to decay, let’s use them to make powerful change in our communities by giving our veterans the access to services and housing that they need and deserve,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a written statement.

The organization Volunteers of America, a nonprofit affordable housing group, has plans to develop 100 apartments at a motel near its existing project in North Hollywood.

“Nobody else is doing this around the country,” said Philip Mangano, the federal homelessness czar under President George W. Bush, who called the project a national model and said it revealed the effectiveness of partnering private capital with existing social service agencies to produce large-scale permanent homeless housing. “There are business people involved (in homeless housing) but not to this scale,” said Mangano

“What I like about the project is it’s immediate,” Volunteers of America President Bob Pratt told the LA Times. “Making these homes available for vets right now, that makes it unique.”