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Opinion: It’s insanely difficult to build housing in L.A. No wonder we have a homelessness problem.

A homeless person sleeps wrapped in plastic bags in Hollywood on May 30.
(Christian K. Lee / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: When lots of people want to live here and there aren’t enough homes, there is a shortage. And in a market economy, the way that shortage manifests itself is through price increases as people compete for housing. The prices go up for everyone, and the people at the bottom of the economic ladder find themselves pushed onto the streets. This does not take into account people who are homeless because of substance abuse and other issues, but it explains part of the problem. (“L.A. County homelessness jumps a ‘staggering’ 23% as need far outpaces housing, new count shows,” May 31)

So how do we fix it? We build more housing, and not just subsidized dwellings for the poor. Without a sustained increase in the amount of housing of all kinds in Los Angeles County, prices will continue to rise and more people will fall into homelessness. We live in a single market for housing, where an increase in supply anywhere in Los Angeles ultimately affects everyone.

So why isn’t enough housing built? Because numerous requirements placed on builders in this area make construction very costly, stopping new projects that would be economic to build in most parts of the country. Furthermore, antiquated parking requirements (in this era of Uber and Lyft) further drive up costs for developers.

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We live in a single market for housing, where an increase in supply anywhere in Los Angeles ultimately affects everyone.

— Joel Levin, Los Angeles

If we are serious about solving homelessness, our leaders must take a critical look at the costly obligations placed on developers and figure out how we can make it easier to build in Los Angeles.

Joel Levin, Los Angeles

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To the editor: We who work in homeless services were shocked to hear the results of the latest count, which revealed a 23% increase in the number of homeless people in L.A. County. Astonishingly, the number of homeless veterans grew by 57%.

This depressing news comes after a five-year, intensive, nationwide push to end homelessness among veterans, and it forces us to confront some hard truths.

With more than 2.7 million servicemen and women deployed to war zones since 2001, we have more veterans than ever in harm’s way. These people return to civilian life in desperate need of housing, jobs and, in many cases, intensive mental health services — and we have not built a strong enough safety net to help them through their crises.

With the passing of the city’s Proposition HHH and the county’s Measure H, we have a real opportunity to lead the way in addressing veteran homelessness. We need to call upon our community leaders to ensure dedicated housing funds for veterans who not only stepped up to defend our country, but who can become true leaders in our community if we help them in their time of need.

Stephen Peck, Los Angeles

The writer, a Marine Corps veteran, is president and chief executive of the nonprofit organization U.S. VETS.

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To the editor: Of course the homeless population continues to grow in L.A. Over the last 25 years, I have met and talked to homeless people from Seattle, Albuquerque, Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Detroit and other places.

Why do they come to Los Angeles? For the same reason so many of us came: Because life is better here than it is in most other places. It is easier to be homeless in Los Angeles than Chicago in January.

The reality is that as places such as Los Angeles invest more in combating the homeless problem, even more people from afar will find their way to our streets. It is akin to digging a hole in the middle of the ocean.

Carter C. Bravmann, Los Angeles

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