SACRAMENTO, CA — Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur today issued a statement in response to the findings of the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, indicating that the number of unhoused people living on the streets of Los Angeles County on any given night had risen by 9 percent from 2022 to 2023 to an estimated 75,518 people, and had risen by 10 percent in the City of Los Angeles to an estimated 46,260 people.
"It's clear more needs to be done to address the housing crisis in Los Angeles. Increasing access to affordable housing while implementing systems that help people on the verge of becoming unhoused remain in their homes is part of the pathway to success," said Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur. "In addition to building more affordable housing, we have to work together on the local, state, and national level to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place."
A separate study mentioned by LAHSA found that the primary reason most people become homeless is economic and that a loss of income was a driving factor. The average monthly rent in Los Angeles is $2,452, while the median monthly household income preceding homelessness was $935. People with a history of trauma, people of color, and older adults were all at higher risk of becoming homeless. The study also revealed that most participants believed that rental subsidies, one-time payments, or access to housing vouchers could have prevented homelessness.
"The line between being housed and becoming homeless can be as narrow as a single paycheck or a few hundred dollars," stated Assemblymember Zbur. "It is clear that preventing homelessness before it occurs is the most cost-effective and compassionate strategy we can advance. That's why more than one-third of my legislative agenda this year - including the California Housing Security Act - is dedicated to preventing homelessness and creating sustainable, long-term solutions to keep people housed."
Assemblymember Zbur authored a package of four bills this year targeted at preventing homelessness. These proposals would provide rent subsidies to at-risk individuals, authorize local jurisdictions to allow people who become physically disabled to move to ground-floor or accessible units without losing their rent control so that they can access their home, authorize counties to extend the age at which foster youth can receive support including housing through the Independent Living Program, and incentivize sustainable housing to reduce reliance on vehicles. Here are brief descriptions of each bill:
- AB 1431: The California Housing Security Act. One key to reducing homelessness is to help the most housing-insecure Californians remain in their homes when they are facing challenging economic times. AB 1431 furthers California's commitment to putting housing first by providing short and medium-term rent subsidies up to $2,000 a month to the most housing-insecure populations, including older adults, adults with disabilities, people experiencing unemployment or homelessness, former foster youth, and recently incarcerated people, without regard to immigration status. A year of assistance costing $24,000 could prevent a family from losing their home. This means a two-year rent subsidy program funded at $500 million could prevent homelessness for more than 10,000 people – roughly the same number of people who became newly homeless between 2020 and 2022 – and save California billions on additional supportive housing for this population. The bill requires the California Department of Housing and Community Development to establish a two-year pilot program (the California Housing Security Program) in up to four counties across the state – spanning northern, southern, and central regions, taking into account urban, rural, and suburban representation – to develop criteria for and provide housing subsidies to Medi-Cal eligible populations as listed above. Sponsors: City of Santa Monica, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
- AB 1620: Apartment Swaps for Tenants with Permanent Physical Disabilities. People with physical disabilities living in rent-controlled apartments risk becoming homeless if they cannot access their home or find an alternative ground-floor unit at a similar rate. This bill will address this problem by authorizing local jurisdictions to require that tenants with permanent physical disabilities be allowed to relocate to an available accessible unit at the same rental rate and terms. Sponsors: City of West Hollywood, City of Santa Monica
- AB 369: Independent Living Program for Foster Youth. Young people aging out of foster care are often unprepared to survive independently and consequently experience homeless. This bill will authorize counties to increase the eligibility age for foster youth to receive support through the Independent Living Program from age 21 to 23, aligning California with more than 30 other states. The bill also clarifies that young adults can accumulate cash savings while in extended foster care, better equipping them to become self-reliant in adulthood. Sponsors: California Coalition for Youth, Alliance for Children's Rights, and Children Now
- AB 1335: Regional Housing and Sustainability Planning. In order for cities to meet their local housing needs and ensure that development is sustainable, regional authorities undertake extensive planning through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) program and the Sustainable Communities Strategies program. However, these programs often rely on inconsistent data and presumptions. This bill requires planning and reporting for sustainable housing development to be more transparent and makes clarifying changes so that housing and sustainability goals are better aligned. The bill also incentivizes sustainable housing near transit to reduce reliance on cars. Sponsor: Abundant Housing LA
Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur serves as the Democratic Caucus Chair for the California State Assembly and represents the 51st Assembly District, including Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica, and portions of Los Angeles.
CONTACT: Vienna Montague, (916) 319-2051, Vienna.Montague@asm.ca.gov