Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass directly requested intervention from Marcia Fudge, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to expedite the process of getting the unhoused into permanent housing. Working together to address a crisis that communities are experiencing nationwide, HUD agreed to exempt local housing providers from requirements that caused significant delays in moving the unhoused to permanent housing.
In the past, applicants had to legally identify themselves and document their homeless status and income before moving into permanent housing. HUD agreed to allow applicants to move in first and then provide the required documents. According to city and county housing officials, this change will take months off the process, allowing the unhoused to receive housing at a faster rate.
“This addresses major roadblocks to moving Angelenos from interim housing in motels to permanent housing, putting housing first and bureaucracy last,” Bass said in a statement to The LA Times.
“For too long, the system responded to unhoused Angelenos with a 30+ page questionnaire asking for proof that they were low income instead of with the housing they need. Because of paperwork, people should not be left in motels, tiny homes, or A Bridge Home housing.”
Before this change, the process could take up to a year if an applicant did not possess a driver’s license, Social Security card, and documents providing proof of homeless status. During this time of document gathering, an applicant could not move into an available unit, and for many, this meant continued homelessness.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “The Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Development Authority jointly asked the federal housing agency for the waiver in March. Bass followed up in May with a letter specifying five changes that “will drastically expedite the leasing process and allow the city and its partners to make full use of all the federal resources dedicated to fighting homelessness in the immediate term.”
HUD agreed to allow a waiver on the Social Security, residency, and homelessness requirement, but the income prequalification remained intact.
Secretary Fudge is intentional in her efforts to work with communities that have plans and definite goals for getting people off the streets. Fudge acknowledged that Los Angeles and New York are in crisis in that 40% of unhoused persons live in those two states. Against that backdrop, Mayor Bass appealed directly to the Secretary to remove the income prequalification, and Fudge agreed.
HUD agreed to waive the income requirement and allow 60 days after a person moves in to complete the verification process.
“I want to thank Secretary Fudge, who I’ve worked with on this issue, for her fearless advocacy,” Bass said.
The change is “a complete leap forward,” said Sarah Dusseault, a former Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority commissioner. This relieves a large chunk of the bottleneck.”