Prop HHH supporters on the fence about $1.2 billion bond to reduce homelessness

Homeless man sleeps on bridge
A homeless man sleeps on the Main Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With a rise in homelessness in Los Angeles, especially among women and children, Prop HHH (Homes, Help, Hope) offers funding and resources to help get homeless the housing and help they need.

The proposition’s goal to help finance 8,000-10,000 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) instead of the usual 3,000 the city is able to finance has supporters on the fence on whether the proposition will decrease homelessness in the city.

According to yesonhhh.com, more than 28,000 are homeless in Los Angeles, and homelessness went up by 11 percent last year. Encampments increased by 20 percent, and women account for 61 percent of the increase since 2011. The $1.2 billion “Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing, and Facilities Bond” aims to decrease these statistics.

According to Wade Trimmer, director of San Fernando Rescue Mission, a program designed to provide homeless families opportunities to obtain food, shelter, and basic life necessities; homelessness has increased approximately 22 percent within the last year in the valley.

Trimmer said factors such as economics, domestic violence, mental health and addiction issues are what causes an increase in homelessness. When it comes to families, Trimmer believes housing is extremely difficult to obtain with high rent prices in Los Angeles.

According to Trimmer, many shelters lost their funding which now goes to Housing First, a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Another factor he stressed, is domestic violence.

“One of the biggest reasons for family homelessness is domestic violence, there are few domestic violence shelters or safe houses,” Trimmer said.

Although it is not clear whether Trimmer will vote yes or no on Prop HHH, he does support the proposition in a sense that he thinks it will provide some relief. However, relief is not enough for Trimmer.

“What really needs to change is our policies, we need to change the things that are making homelessness possible,” Trimmer said. “If we really want to build ourselves out of this, we need something like 12 to 14 billion dollars.”

Angela Amirkhanian, who will be hosting her fifth annual blanket drive for the homeless this winter, will vote yes this November because she believes the proposition is a good start to fixing the issue.

“Homelessness is such a huge issue that a lot of people choose to ignore, unfortunately, and it’s just getting worse and worse,” Amirkhanian said. “Now that we have a strategy I think that it’s huge progress.”

However, Amirkhanian is concerned with how long it’s going to take to implement the funding. She said many people think the solution to helping a homeless individual is giving them change.

“I realized that these people don’t get to spend the holidays like we do, around friends and family, so thought it would be a good way to connect with them, wish them happy holidays, and give them something that they can use throughout the year,” Amirkhanian said. “I thought blankets are something people use both during the summer and winter, so I thought that would be a good item to give away to them.”

In addition, Amirkhanian thinks vocational training is important, and that providing the homeless with the tools to even look for work is a huge help.

“It’s not only getting these individuals off the streets, it’s giving them resources and tools for them to adjust to the life after getting off the streets,” Amirkhanian said.

Christopher Linares, a broadcast journalism major, said he will vote yes on Prop HHH because he believes homelessness continues to grow as an epidemic.

“I want to see more resources because homeless people are humans too, who need protection,” Linares said.