Innovation Challenge Creates Faster, Cheaper Supportive Housing

Addressing homelessness requires a panoply of solutions, including preventive measures and temporary bridge housing and shelter to enable the unhoused to get off the streets quickly. But for many who have experienced chronic homelessness and face special challenges in being rehoused, permanent supportive housing is imperative. Supportive housing combines permanent homes with the kind of intensive on-site social services that enable residents to turn their lives around and remain housed.

In 2016, the city set the goal of more than tripling the annual production of supportive housing in Los Angeles. The voters of Los Angeles passed Proposition HHH to raise the funds necessary to build 10,000 units of supportive housing. Thanks to Proposition HHH, the city has already created thousands of new homes, exceeding our stated goal of 1,000 units per year by 50 percent. Sixty more projects are currently under construction, representing an additional 3,800 permanent homes.

Still, much more needs to be done, and much faster. For myriad economic and bureaucratic reasons, expansion of permanent supportive housing has been too slow and too expensive. In an effort to find new ways to get supportive housing built faster and cheaper, the city created the HHH Housing Innovation Challenge, seeking improved construction and financing methods that will reduce costs and make more supportive housing available sooner.

Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember Krekorian recently broke ground on the first Innovation Challenge project in the city — the 49-unit Vanowen Apartments in North Hollywood. Employing modular construction and a simplified financing process, the Vanowen Apartments will cost about 20 percent less than the typical HHH project. This three-story building will offer critical supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness and for transition-aged youth at risk of becoming homeless.

The Vanowen Apartment project can be a model for more efficient expansion of the supportive housing stock throughout the city. It is another vital step forward in addressing our city’s crisis of homelessness.

Artist’s rendering of 11694 Vanowen Street, when completed.