Los Angeles Is Converting Motel Units Into 500 Apartments for Homeless Veterans

June 3, 2016

In a major step forward toward housing hundreds of homeless veterans, Los Angeles has approved a deal for developers to convert "nuisance" motels into 500 permanent supportive apartments.

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Under the deal, developers will purchase underutilized, often run-down motels from private owners and convert them to efficiency apartments. 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.

"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 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.

Volunteers of America will develop 100 units 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 George W. Bush who participated in discussions that led to the deal. "There are business people involved (in homeless housing) but not to this scale."

"What I like about the project is it's immediate," said Volunteers of America President Bob Pratt. "Making these homes available for vets right now, that makes it unique."

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