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L.A. needs to commit money to housing for the homeless

To the editor: Simplifying zoning, encouraging inclusion of affordable units in larger projects and preserving existing affordable housing are important parts of a strategy to address Los Angeles' housing crisis. ("Three ideas for adding affordable housing in L.A.," Editorial, Jan. 14)

By themselves, however, they will not solve the problem.

Los Angeles needs to commit capital to produce affordable housing, especially housing for our homeless residents with disabilities. The Community Redevelopment Agency used to fund such housing, but since Gov. Jerry Brown abolished CRAs, that money instead flows to Sacramento and is returned to cities and counties.

L.A. County and some California cities use some of these "boomerang" funds to produce permanent supportive housing for the homeless, but to date the city has deposited them in the general fund. It is time for the city to re-commit to producing affordable housing by using boomerang funds to produce housing for our homeless.

Steve Renahan, Los Angeles

The writer is senior policy advisor at Shelter Partnership Inc., a nonprofit advocating housing for the homeless.

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To the editor: A simple and immediate solution to the housing crisis would be for the L.A. Department of Housing and Community Development to cease forcing the closure of safe and habitable, but unpermitted, apartment units.

Thousands of studios and one-bedroom apartments in L.A. have been created from two- and three-bedroom units, many without permits. Many of these apartments are occupied by lower-income tenants.

As an attorney, I have represented dozens of owners who have been prosecuted or fined for owning such unpermitted units, some in existence for more than 70 years. The end result is the apartments are closed and the tenants are forced from their homes.

Santa Monica takes a much wiser approach and works with the owner to legalize such units, preserving housing.

Thomas A. Nitti, Santa Monica

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