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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Alternative funding could speed the construction of Torrance’s temporary homeless shelter

An alternative funding source proposed for Torrance’s planned collection of 40 tiny homes could begin construction a few months after its approval.

The Torrance City Manager’s office provided its second update on the homeless shelter during a Tuesday, October 13, city council meeting. The project was initially expected to begin construction in the fall, but was set back due to a timely adherence to current funding demands.

Key Delay: Guidelines for seeking funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the $1.7 US Rescue Plan Fund, had not yet been issued.

On Tuesday, deputy city manager Viet Hoang proposed alternative sources that he said would allow the city to rely on its own funding, at least for the first year of operation. In an August update on the shelter, Hoang had identified an opportunity to apply for South Bay City Council of Governments innovation funds.

SBCCOG’s Innovation Funds Review Panel voted at its steering committee meeting on Monday, October 11, to recommend a $1.9 million bounty from the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative. The panel estimates that the combined sanctioned allocation will have around 135-165 homeless residents.

The project, which is set to be constructed on the grounds of the Civic Center, will house 45 single unit shelters – similar to Redondo Beach’s thatched shelters. The proposal also calls for two outreach and housing navigation staff. The total cost of the 18 months the shelter was planned to operate is estimated at $3.4 million.

The review panel voted to fund $295,000 of these costs, although city employees initially proposed $370,000. The remaining costs will be funded by Torrance’s American Rescue Plan allocation and county allocation.

Hoang said that another funding opportunity “receives a key concern” that is shared among council members comes from the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Permanent Local Housing Allocation Fund, meant to be a non-competitive fund. To provide local governments with a permanent source of funding to assist cities and counties. Implement a scheme to increase the affordable housing stock.

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“Because the city will not be dependent on county funding,” Hoang said, “staff can obtain the wishes of your honorable bodies to ensure that we give priority to those experiencing homelessness in Torrance before we do. Support those in the wider region.”

PLHA funds, Hoang said, are accrued annually and operate on a five-year cycle, with the current cycle beginning in 2019. Funds are eligible for distribution in the following calendar year.

“The city has already earned $1.6 million in the 2019-20 year eligible for disbursements immediately after the city submits applications,” Hoang said.

The current available funds will support the temporary housing program for its first 12 months.

If the City uses its funds on eligible activities listed on HCD’s website, the City may seek reimbursement for those activities, including: operating expenses, case management, onsite security, food and support services.

The City Manager’s office returned to the Council in two weeks, on 26 October, to hold a public hearing, to discuss the proposed plan for the use of alternative funding, and to request the City to submit an application. Will come After approval of the application, Hoang said, operations on the site could take place in three to four months.

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