In 2016, voters in California approved a $1.2 billion program to build housing for the homeless. This is a fine idea, and Californians should be applauded for their compassion and generosity.

But six years later, only 1,200 units have been built out of the 10,300 that have been paid for. One project under development would cost $837,000 for each housing unit, according to a report published by Los Angeles city controller Ron Galperin.

Another 14% of units exceeded $700,000 in cost.

The program “is still unable to meet the demands of the homelessness crisis,” Galperin said in a letter accompanying the 31-page report. The pace of development is slow, while the cost of each unit continues to climb — in some cases to “staggering heights.”

But Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti thinks the program is working just fine.

Associated Press:

John Maceri, chief executive of the People Concern, one of L.A.’s largest nonprofits serving the homeless, agreed with the overall finding that the city needs to build housing faster and cheaper. But he warned the program, while a step in the right direction, represents only a small fraction of the money needed to complete projects.

The solution, he said, is innovative financing, slashing red tape that slows projects and incentives for developers to aggregate funding to speed up construction. “Housing has not kept pace with the urgency of the unsheltered homelessness crisis,” Maceri said.

Ah, yes. The ubiquitous “red tape.” You know, little things like environmental paperwork coming out of a contractor’s ying-yang, diversity paperwork to make sure the right people have jobs — everything to make sure any project comes in at five times the cost and takes three times as long to complete.

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