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Leader of L.A.’s Homelessness Agency to Resign




That seems like a good segue: What’s next for you?

I have mostly an intention to rest. The L.A.H.S.A. Commission has asked me to stay on in a consulting capacity for some period of time, which I’m happy to do. I am not going to pick up the next thing right away. I plan to stay in L.A.

As The L.A. Times reported, during your tenure, homelessness has increased by 33 percent. At the same time, in your announcement, you emphasized that L.A.H.S.A. has helped house more than 80,000 people during that time. Can you sort of square those two stats?

I think one of the hardest things for Angelenos, and I think for people nationally, to understand is just how challenging housing affordability is for Los Angeles, and particularly for poor Angelenos. Study after study: You could look at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. You could look at the Zillow study of a year ago.

We have one of the highest poverty rates in the state of California. We have an enormous population and we have an enormous deficit of housing affordability. So as the economy picks up, and there is more and more money moving through Los Angeles, more of it is going into rents increasing.


[Read more: How rents are outrunning pay, leaving California families on a knife’s edge.]

People who are earning above median incomes can keep pace with the extraordinary increases in rents. Those who are below area median, particularly the lowest decile, people who are on Social Security benefits, people who are on fixed incomes, they’re not seeing their incomes increase to match anywhere near their level of rental burden. And people are getting pushed out of this market faster and faster. Los Angeles, like most of California, has under-built housing for decades.

The other thing is low-income Angelenos have been doubled up for a long time. People have tripled up, quadrupled. Overcrowding is effectively the low-income housing strategy. When rents go up at the kinds of increases that folks have seen, it knocks out not only one household, but four. Even as our tool kit gets better, the pressures on the poorest Angelenos is getting harder.

Take me back to 2014. What would you tell your former self about the job — any advice or things you encourage yourself to approach differently?

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