Zoning and homelessness

Regular readers know homeless is a major interest / concern of mine. After all, our business model ends up raising rents and that unavoidably impacts housing affordability and, hence, homelessness.

So it is with great interest that I am following the debate between LA County and Gov. Brown regarding whether or not the homeless situation in LA represents a “state of emergency”.

As a primer:

  1. The county is leaning on Gov. Brown to declare a state of emergency, which would allow the county to access millions of dollars worth of state money for use in housing the homeless; and
  2. Gov. Brown refuses to do so, mostly, I suspect, because he objects to ad hoc, bandaid solutions to long-term problems

Like Gov. Brown, I’m pretty skeptical about the ability of state government to make much of a difference in our homelessness situation.

The numbers are working against us, because:

  1. There is a constant influx of border-line homeless people to southern CA all the time because of our weather
  2. Land on which to build housing is extremely expensive

So, you’re constantly in a race to build more housing, but there’s nothing to prevent more homeless people from coming here. In fact, the more housing you provide, the more people you may attract.

To me, the only long-lasting solution to our problem is to relax our insane zoning system, allowing the private market to embark on a major construction binge and thereby bring down the cost of housing across the city.

That’s how you get the free market on the side of vulnerable people.