tv House Financial Services Hearing on Homelessness - Part 2 CSPAN August 20, 2019 11:33am-12:48pm EDT
much. first i would like to thank our first panel of witnesses for testimony today. we will now pause to set up the second panel for today's hearing . thank you so very much for coming for your testimony. [applause] rep. waters: our second panel wattses mr. tim watkins, labor community action community. mr. joe horiye, western region of them buys president local initiatives support corporation. denison, executive
director of venice community housing. speak upaynes, advocate. hartman, chief program officer of the downtown women's center. l-mansour,la a executive director of the housing rights center. vizcaino, speaker of the downtown women's center on behalf of the domestic violence homelessness services coalition. gallo, president and chief executive officer of a community of friends. i will give you a signal by tapping the gavel lightly when one minute remains. at that time it would ask you to wrap up your testimony so that we can be respectful of the witnesses and committee members time. mr. watkins, you are recognized
him five minutes for oral testimony. mr. watkins: thank you. i won't spend too much time saying what an honor it is to be here, but i really appreciate your work and always have on all fronts. years,been here for 66 watts,being a boy of born and raised in watts, i have blessed to be around the community action committee for its entire lifetime. my father was a founder 54 years ago. you get to see a lot in 54 years. as an organization that has consistently constantly, without interruption provided service and helped to support the society, i have to say that today maybe i'm here representing the others on the ground floor. i don't know if you have ever heard that term, but in watts
there is a network of people living under people's houses that have raised foundation. they live there with the cooperation of the homeowner or the renter. they bump around at night, no one gets alarmed, but basically they are allowed to subsist in the basement or not the basement but the foundation space of those homes. seen mayorrs we have bradley, mayor riordan, mayor the era go set, now garcetti. bother to talk about the broken promises of the past, because maybe this time we will promises cap, but so far, so far what we have seen over 54 years is a trail of broken promises. we were around when across the country mental health institutions were being shut down and we saw the earliest vestiges of homelessness when
people started showing up with nowhere to go. we started serving homeless well before there was a response to south and -- south central los angeles and we have been serving ever since. recognize thatto although we may those powerful watts has been at the forefront of the services that homeless people need. not enough.t we are all here, maybe even some of you, i remember some recent congresspeople doing a check away from homelessness themselves. it's important for you to realize in the audience that lots of us are just a couple of checks away from being homeless and the perhaps, you know, along with what we do about homelessness, we think about the
policy of more public versus poverty and what it really means. we keep talking about poverty as though that's the problem when poverty is but a symptom of pool public policy and what drives us into these conditions that are not easy to sustain and yet we find ourselves with less than self-sufficiency or self determining. we have watched the descendents of people that, you know, up until 1865 were able to get what they wanted and still do. here we are, hundreds of years later still just trying to find what they call that so-called level playing field. there is no level playing field. full ofing field is empty gold mines, waterholes, oil wells, you name it. we look for scraps on the surface. disparaged.we get people in my community get disparaged and treated as
subhuman because they have the nobility to go through our trash . they dig through the trash to find recyclables and lineup as if they should be incarcerated by getting pennies on the dollar for what their work is worth. we have to start looking for how we prevent the problem in as many ways as we can that are not the traditional ways. we will talk, we will talk, we will talk about hundreds of millions and billions of dollars. but it takes too long to get the help that people need. when you think about public policy versus poverty and how this all happened, how much of it is by design? why does someone have to be homeless for a year before they can qualify for services? maybe their condition doesn't allow them to survive a year of waiting. howell, how, how many of our ofple can stand the product geopolitical gerrymandering in our community? we are a place that is
unfortunately 15 miles away from the base. it's very difficult to get the kind of representation that we need that is specific to us. what are the impediments? certainly we have persecution, , the problem of transitional housing long ago constructed to help the homeless people, torn down only to be replaced by transitional housing. i know i've got to go, we've got a lot of resources. i would like to talk about that in a follow-up if possible. much.you very thank you. , -- mr. -- mr.: horiye, you have five minutes. mr. horiye: we were established in 1979 and were dedicated to helping residents transform disaffected neighborhoods into healthy communities of choice and opportunity with local community development organizations that have owns,
grants, technical, and management assistance with a national footprint that has offices in 35 cities. we invest approximately $1.4 billion each year in these communities. our doors opened in 1987, we developed 11,000 units of housing in the region with community partners with $34 million of investment for affordable housing and community development projects have been made in the 43rd district alone. i oversee the work of the l.a. office but wish to knowledge our new executive director, a native angelino. the l.a. team is deeply embedded in community-based efforts to provide assistance for those experiencing homelessness or are in need of affordable housing. i see firsthand the challenges that exist for those experiencing homelessness and how nonprofit organizations can improve their lives. i would like to focus my time on
what's needed to address this issue. first, this country has to be committed if we want to and homelessness. the efforts must be supported through sufficient funding resources. our nation's commitment to reducing chronic veteran homelessness has resulted in substantial decline. this is mainly due to the federal government targeting resources for the work. , homelessnesscare assistance program provides the main resources and incentivize locals to prioritize housing first approaches. we support full funding for the federal assistance programs and were pleased to support representative waters and her .nding homelessness act of 2019 this would increase resources for permanent supportive housing, authorizing resources for housing choice vouchers, fund funding,st authorizing outreach to homeless people and better integration of
affordable housing and health care activity. recognizes the resources that the federal government has to provide if our country is going to continue to make advances in reducing homelessness. this has worked since the inception to provide assistance to affordable housing providers. we provide grants for organizational capacity. one of the most important federal capacity building tools we have for the work is the capacity building program. helping nonprofit and housing community development organizations further affordable housing goals. one example, people assisting the homeless have used section for support to develop west carson villas that consist of 110 units, 55 of which are reserved for formerly homeless residents with financing for affordable housing development and we typically use low income housing tax credit equity. it's the nations most important development subsidy source for
affordable rental housing and works by providing equity for housing exchanges for tax credits. the largestof nonprofit syndicators and an expert at using housing credits for finding supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness. giving us other federal resources to support the work, including the capital magnet fund, the competitive reward administered by the treasury department that can be used flexibly by mission driven lenders for affordable rental housing for very poor households . an example of the impact of cms and a housing credit is recent support for the l.a. housing family campus. once a homeless shelter operating as a motel, it completed its transformation into offering housing and other services in the valley.
it includes 45 units of permanent supportive housing targeting chronically homeless single adults. we invested nearly $13.6 million of housing tax credit equity in a $20.7 million project and used our award to provide reduced interest permanent loans to close the gap on the apartments. the history of supporting affordable housing products -- projects for those experiencing homelessness shows us that progress can be made when resources are available to address need. we urge congress to assess the fund and support federal health and tax credit programs to provide stable housing for homeless people and programs that build the capacity of organization serving these communities. thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to working with you and your staff on ways to end the homelessness crisis in l.a. thank you. rep. waters: thank you very
much. we will now hear from ms. dennison 45 minutes to present your oral testimony. ms. dennison: good morning, everyone. we own and operate affordable supported housing focused on ensuring inclusive communities on the west side. their years we have been home to about 1000 homeless residents. we simply need vastly low resources. you can't just produce or spec the results to trickle down. the federal budget for affordable housing was cut in the early 1980's.
locally, production is nowhere documented need. in the last housing element the city projected to produce 75% of its overall housing needs, but only 17% of the extremely low have -- low income housing needs. with those at the lowest income levels and an overproduction of luxury housing production, l.a. has under produced supportive housing, creating just a few hundred units per year for 20 years and the ballot initiatives and will do good work but are a drop in the bucket in the overall need. we need the city, the county, and the state to create permanent and sustained resources and we need to federal government to supplement the resources. more specifically we need to increase rental subsidy, as people have said. right now we're making decisions in a scarcity environment and we must balance the needs for tenet-based housing choice
within this limited pool of subsidy and there is just nowhere near enough to cover even a portion of all of those needs. the federal government must also help us address the issue of underproduction of low income housing because while the tax credit program is incredibly important, it is just not designed to produce extremely low income housing and therefore that is where we see the biggest gaps. beyond housing production we must put more effort into the production of -- prevention of homelessness and perez -- preservation -- preservation of all subsidized rental housing must be prioritized. while these are largely issues at the local and state level and our local government must make preservation more of a priority, we also do need targeted federal investment to make this a comprehensive effort. prevention of homelessness also requires increased tenant protections and proactive enforcement of those protections.
tenants far regularly face unjust and illegal in fiction and other forced displacements. some of these challenges and solutions are focused on state and local issues and our state government has some important policies pending, but the federal government can help to ensure more proactive enforcement of public subsidized ,ousing enforcement protections fundings, and the prevention of any policy that would produce displacement such as the proposed mixed status policy that was also discussed. government entities must also eliminate the unacceptable overrepresentation of black people experiencing homelessness that has been persistent in los angeles for far too long. los angeles has studied this recently and has a report and recommendation that was discussed that really looks at the long history of institutional racism and further exploration of that from this committee is recommended. lastly, l.a. must end the criminalization of homelessness.
this is an area where l.a. has been uniquely horrible in its efforts. we have the largest unsheltered homeless population in the country and yet without creating any significant housing alternatives, l.a. has invested incredible financial and political resources in policies explicitly intended to criminalize homelessness and other initiatives that resulted .n harassment this exacerbates homelessness, lengthens the amount of time people remain homeless, discriminates against people for their current on housed status. this must end and be replaced with health-based interventions until l.a. provides housing for all in need. in closing, we know that l.a. and california must enact substantial new policies and funding streams that focus on production at the lowest income levels of homeless prevention, as well as eliminating harmful policies. l.a. and all regional efforts
cannot succeed without more investment at the federal level. hr 1856 is a significant step forward and additional steps will be needed to solve the crisis. thank you. [applause] rep. waters: thank you. now, i would like to ask mr. to give his testimony. you are now recognized for five minutes to present that testimony. mr. haynes: good afternoon. i am a speak up advocate. i grew up in an average middle-class community with six siblings and a mother and a father in the home. they, my mother and father used to shelter me from what was until one dayner i found out what was around the corner and i became an alcoholic. alcoholic functioning . over the years my disease got worse, but i was still able to
find a job and keep an apartment until i could no longer work, suffering from mental health issues. until i found myself, 10 years of homelessness, ending up on skid row. i would go to jail for one year, exactly one year for possession of marijuana. when i got out of jail, i knew i needed something different. i knew i wanted to do something different with my life, so with that one year clean from alcohol and drugs, i got on a wait list. it took a long time for me to get permanent supportive housing , but when i finally got in, it made a big difference in my life. -- it'sve housing is very important. not only just for housing a person, but with the wraparound services. ,ith the case manager on-site
the therapists, the psychiatrist at my disposal. it took me a long time to find my worth, you know? they had so many groups to offer. art, journal. i ended up doing a knitting group. coming from the streets are like -- i'm not going to sit in a circle and share my feelings. so i took a knitting group for exactly one year and in the group they said -- they sat and watched oprah and knitted. so after one year i never learned to knit. but i sat with a group of women that helped me regain my im, you know? they gave me so much perspective on life, showing me a different way that i can go to grow.
it was so important for me to have them groups. , the housingknow was important, but more important was the wraparound services that came with it. people that can a be there for when you need them. giving them housing is important, but now the you are housed, you have to learn to live with yourself. how do i do that? how do i do that sober. it was a big challenge, you know? depression sets in. , i continue tot work on myself, continue to take advantage of what was offered to me and the help provided within the support system. with that they watched me grow. and i, i am now ap or advocate manager for skid row advocate trust. i moved into one of the buildings and i get to be an advocate for the future residence and help them to
understand what it's going to feel like once you move into your own apartment by yourself. you're going to feel lonely. a lot of us resort back to what we used to know, our old friends drugs and alcohol. i'm showing them a way that you don't have to go back, we are to build a new bridge, new friends, going anyway. so, now i want the potential residents -- i help them to navigate all the resources at their disposal within the community. it is so important that they know that it's out there for them. a lot of stuff is offered to them, but it's -- half the time it's stuff they don't need or can't use. everything offered is not for every individual. so, i just want to thank you for coming out and listening to what we have to say. [applause] rep. waters: and i want to thank you. thank you very much. , you are now
recognize for five minutes to present your testimony. ms. hartman: good afternoon chairwoman, members of the committee of the california delegation. i'm the chief program officer of the downtown women's center. for 40 years we have been providing housing and vital services to women in the skid row area of los angeles and served 4000 women per year. in recent years we have seen homelessness rise to unprecedented levels and in the last year the number of women individual women. homelessness among women is increasing nationally as well and on any given night, 260,211 women are experiencing homelessness in this country, women comprise 39% of those experiencing homelessness and 49% are unaccompanied. the downtown women's center exists because we recognize that women are a unique subpopulation withiencing homelessness
corresponding unique needs and we continue to advocate for hud to recognize women as a unique population, specifically unaccompanied women. as an example, they are four more likely to be chronically homeless and for these reasons need resources to serve them. areas of focus should be on targeting services and housing towards women and requiring gender competency and program service provisions be required. downtown we serve anyone who identifies as female or was identified female at birth. limiting experiencing homelessness on skid row are lgbtq compared -- at 14% compared to 3% of the general population and are strong advocates for equal active rules without changes but would otherwise support hr 3818. 90% of the women residing in skid row have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime and for this reason we are advocating for 6545.
for the release of additional dollars inadditional the crime act fund. women in the military are extra vulnerable to honorable discharges and ineligible for hud discount vouchers. even with the level of risk we know women face on the streets, 64% of women experiencing homelessness in los angeles county are unsheltered and they remain without stable housing for an average of 14 to 16 years . because of insufficient shelter in los angeles, one in every 12 is able to access a shelter bed on any given night. women who are unsheltered age close to 20 years faster and and 2018 in los angeles the number of deaths among homeless women more than doubled and the life expectancy for women is longer than men, but for homeless women it is shorter, the age of death for women experiencing homelessness is 48. hr 19 78ial that
receives necessary support and we hope to see more house members with 3272. los angeles, economic hardship is the cause of 52% of homelessness. rents have increased while income has gone down. continuescome in that and women of color are the most significant impacted. there is vast this proportionality of those experiencing homelessness due to racism and the and i could ease of the system have caused african-american women to be the most significantly impacted by the history of incarceration by seeking employment with an on a women rate of 46%, 10% higher than any other demographic. in the event that hud moves forward with a proposed change to the mixed status rule, we support hr 26's -- 2763.
for that reason, ongoing support of 3163 is essential to ending homelessness. most importantly, the investment in 1856 would significantly increase the likelihood that will have the opportunity to get ahead of the curve in meeting the needs, and sure focus is maintained on ending the homelessness crisis, and help us gain more ground through mandatory spending. waters,u, congresswoman for introducing this legislation, and the committee, or supporting this will. -- for supporting this bill. rep. waters: thank you very much. , your nowl-mansour recognized. ms. al-mansour: good afternoon. thank you, for allowing the opportunity for us to speak with you today. i'm the executive director of andhousing rights center the california reinvestment coalition as well.
and a3, i was here similar hearing was held in los angeles and members came here to determine what were the reasons for civil unrest, for the lack of income and housing in south los angeles. racism,d about poverty, no grocery stores, no jobs. one thing we did not highlight is homelessness. the main issue we're facing right now is homelessness, caused by all of those things. we heard the u.s. government's promoting redlining, the denial homeownership and home mortgage loans and home improvement loans and other racially targeted groups created -- highly -- with no services. this created the urban blight that depreciated value of black own homes that today have made those neighborhoods right for displacement. everyone complains about l.a.'s traffic.
with new access to public transportation and measures, park, chinatown, other parts of los angeles, are all experiencing displacement of flak and brown low income communities. to the groups who were able purchase their own homes, the grandmother's, when they pass is often sold,e it is too valuable for the family to hold onto. those families will never be able to come back into los angeles. [applause] ms. al-mansour: the targeting of mortgaged homes and so forth created what we see now. about the refuge of the home, the place where people had been evicted, maybe they were formally incarcerated and otherwise lacked housing.
go tograndchildren could mom's house to lift her now that she does not have those, so many do not have that place to go to. i want to identify that the prevalence of housing discrimination in the devastating effects also are causes of the homelessness crisis. rhesus commission is highly reported, not necessarily -- we because often times people do not know they have been discriminated against based on race. i think congressman al green for her -- for his letter supporting funding. you to signthose of it as well. we are asking for at least $52 million in funding which is not that much considering it goes to hundreds of organizations around the country.
testing programs is the only way to really determine -- also high-risk discrimination housing. the house -- the fair housing act must also be preserved as well. just -- impact is being challenged and targeted by the current administration. their loss ofve discrimination must be protected. to weaken the fair housing act by making it possible to bring a case using impact theory, a policy which when applied, can have an impact on a particular group because of membership. all to be protected. the equal access for must be reinstated as well. with minoramilies
children, women, disproportionally impacted every day in the city of los angeles. we ask for their protection as well. i ask we preserve the community reinvestment act. the way apartments can address the homelessness crisis, it did well for california as well. recent survey found over $27 billion in 2016 came from low income communities. hud approved a reconciliation -- thatedlining case was a case filed by the california reinvestment coalition because of redlining policies here in los angeles. retail -- in 60 los angeles. not one of those was located in the community of color. -- must be strengthened and considered fair lending law violations.
-- denyinggulators -- finally, we must have a right to counsel -- rep. waters: thank you very much. [applause] alma vizcaino, you are now recognized. ms. vizcaino: good morning, everyone. my name is alma vizcaino. i thank you so much for listening to my experience. i'm here to ring some statistics. you will hear about the impact on homeless women. what is troubling me is i was women 200 -- 215,000 experiencing homelessness across the nation. in los angeles, among the sheltered and unsheltered,
approximately half experienced domestic violence. please keep in mind this is an account of -- that women felt that theye sharing had experienced a mystic violence. due to stigma, we know this is an undercounted experience. this was the case for me. idid not acknowledge that have experienced domestic violence until just two years in ahen i was sitting mental health support group in a downtown women center at a local nonprofit that supports women with housing and health care. i swept it under the rug for a long time. there was never a good time to talk about it so i did not. experienced, i had periods of homelessness, mental health problems related to the impact of trauma, and chronic health conditions like diabetes
as a result of my hardships. i was born in tijuana, raised in south central, at an early age, i started running away from a home of alcoholism and depression. ability to stay housed. my life was filled with struggle. the depression ended in having many unhealthy relationships. domestic violence blanked me out. many women are ashamed and do not admit to the abuse that they suffered. some find it hard to get the help they need. when i first reached out for help in a shelter in the 1980's with my two kids, it did not really work. my neighbors were white, no hispanics or black. -- that was weird for me.
because of where i grew up. we ended up leaving the shelter because it was just awkward. i did ultimately find the help i needed through a domestic finalist shelter. after i stayed there, my kids , we lived for 20 years with the housing -- with section eight. i also became a board member and found fulfillment in getting back in that way. for many years, we lived in the -- community. we felt safe to my family thrived. comfortable and did not have to move around or fear facing eviction. sold and ilding was could not find another rental -- owners to rent to me with my voucher so i ended up back in south central.
it was very different. in the same city but south-central, it was such day and night. i put my kids in private school through scholarships. but we could not escape the violence, the gang-related violence in the neighborhood. we were evicted because of a shooting. my children and i just had to go wherever they could. we do not have a plan. we cannot have nothing. a single room occupancy in skid row community. i love skid row. stinks, very bad and it but there is so much good also going on in it and i really love it. so, when i got the broom, i thought now i could apply myself
to my goals. i ended up more depressed than when i was homeless. .t was so hard to adjust now i am in a room and have a place. my mind was not able to focus properly. anyway, let's see. i need more support to heal from my trauma and i'm in the process right now of that. the supports that most effectively helped me where the shelter, the ministries, and individuals that came to skidrow just to be nice and good to the people. that really touched my heart. that really helped. i am now at a job with the women center where i may support staff at a social enterprise. i look forward to graduating from the program.
congress should take many steps to end homelessness and prevent violence against women, including ensuring the hud budget -- rep. waters: thank you. [applause] ,ep. waters: dora leong gallo you are recognized for five minutes. ms. gallo: thank you, madam chair and the representatives here today. i appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony. .y name is dora leong gallo we are a nonprofit community-based development ending homelessness for people with mental illness. 30 years ago, our organs it -- our organization developed housing longform -- long before this was created. providing this service for the most vulnerable, we have ended homelessness for thousands. in the 30 years we have been around, we created 50 apartment
buildings in orange county, including to and from san diego. three and represented --'s district. 12 and representative gomez's district. currently, we have 2500 adults including over 600 children. people who have a chronic disability have always been particularly vulnerable to losing their housing. they have limited financial resources, less family support, and need extensive help and services to exit homelessness are we serve these people. noted, an increase of a number of people with disability. many people phoned homelessness due to the extreme lack of political housing in los angeles. the longer they stay homeless, the more likely they are -- health issues. and rising rents
and decades of disinvestment affordable housing has enabled a heated real estate market to cause havoc. rents are rising faster than income. now $2471. ventures in l.a. need to earn $47 per hour to afford the median rent. 79% of extremely low households obtain half of their income from housing. the supply of housing is not keeping pace with demand. recent studies show they -- l.a. needs more housing to meet demand. homes or affordable, 11%. according to the national low income housing -- only 18 every 100 homes for households in the metropolitan area.
housing must be available if we formalend homelessness housing is the most effective tool in keeping people disabilities from sliding back into homelessness. no matter where our buildings are located, pole heights to hollywood, we have found that giving the opportunity -- given the opportunity, people can begin to focus on the other issues that led to their homelessness. service to level of end homelessness requires sustained and long-term commitment. investments in federal programs must continue if homelessness is to be eradicated. we agree with chairman waters that it is difficult to make significant progress without substantial new funding. the citizens of l.a. have done our part to -- by voting to tax ourselves.
waters.nd maxine the $13 billion proposed would be the most significant investment toward this crisis. congress should continue to increase capital investments to build, preserve, homes for people with low income. that is an opportunity to increase resources. we support efforts to expand and improve the house credit. in l.a., it is used to create affordable housing. this affordable housing credit improvement act would expand housing authority by 15% p we urge congress to continue project-based rental subsidies to ensure affordability. i want to conclude by saying despite the challenges and scale of the problem, there is hope. l.a. had -- has a strong community of nonprofit
organizations, public officials, and private citizens with the passion, skill, to end homelessness. we know we can do this. we don't have a choice. thank you for holding this hearing. [applause] rep. waters: thank you very much. i will recognize myself for five minutes for questions. before i do, i would like to give special recognition to ms. ofmine, the president resident and management and property management. and i would like to thank her for all the work she is doing developing low income housing. thank you very much. ms. templeton, executive director in my district, you are doing a fabulous job. thank you very much for being here. i see the yellow t-shirts are here today.
for unitye empowerment here. thank you very much. susan, a new way of life. that is transitioning women from that is transitioning women from incarceration into our community. thank you very much. thank you all. know this very well. my career has been developed along with longtime services that have been presented. thank you for your leadership. i worked with your father. origins and all that you have to trivet it. i am pleased to hear about another housing complex that you have developed. i have cut ribbons for you and your organization more than once. i congratulate you one more time
providing housing opportunities for those who would not get them but for the organization like yours. mentioned it is sometimes public policy that creates homelessness and a lack of opportunity. i agree with you on that. i want to ask you, if in fact being located right adjacent to and surrounded by superior and a number of public housing projects, have you because of a failed policy we haven't federal family'st, that ethics sometimes because one member of
the family may have gotten into a problem of some kind trying to return from incarceration, are you familiar with that policy? >> absolutely to my chagrin, sometimes families are evicted summarily and there is not a clear nation. there is an article in either popular science or popular mechanics, i believe popular science, where some writers went along with lapd one night to witness the effectiveness of shock and ought tactics. they use explosive devices and to awaken families in the middle of the night at summarily evicted 44 families one night. despite my efforts, the only source of news on that subject i was able to find were in that article. one example.
i hear too many stories about people being evicted because the child visited them without a or thato park overnight a child got into trouble. if you are living in the lowest and most affordable because the affordable housing to me, if you're a billionaire, affordable housing means something different than if you are of the lowest income group. the lowest most affordable housing is what i consider public housing to be and when know thereected, i is nowhere to go. i talked to you a number of times about who makes up the population downtown. interesting to find out the populations downtown are made up of people that have been evicted from the most affordable low income housing. rep. waters: what about an frompt to keep people
sleeping in the cars who have no place else to sleep, are you familiar with those policies and what it does to those who have no place else to go and no place else to keep their possessions? mr. watkins: i get criticized because i allow small groups of homeless to live on public property that we own. i get criticized internally and externally because my risk manager says this is a liability prone policy to allow this. i allow people to come freely use showers. we have showers available to the general public. available at all hours of the night so we do not lock it up in the compound overnight. [applause] mr. watkins: but i do get criticized for it because after all, it is not legal to allow on a vacant lot.
meanwhile, i am trying to break ground on a 46 unit compound in avenue,on 126 compton compton boulevard. we have been waiting for months to get out of the planning process. we have promised week over week. i just got a message here today that we are getting told it will be another week before we get the sign off on the plans. sincee been in there march. this happens all the time. the process, though i grant it is necessary, it is far from streamlined. it is anything but streamlined. thank you very much. want you to know i had a town hall recently where that county, that you are feeding people the hot lunch program, as seniors, they are wondering in from all
over and sleeping on the ground all over the city. they are wondering in to be fed. i'm coming out with some representatives from the county so we can get these seniors off the streets, whom you are feeding in addition to all of the other stuff you are doing. mr. watkins: thank you. [applause] chair recognizes representative brad sherman again from the 30th district, california. rep. sherman: thank you. homelessness is the number one problem i hear about. the federal government has to do more as far as resources and be more efficient in how we spend them. these hearings will also hopefully china light on local policies that cause rents to be so much higher in los angeles than they are in so many cities around the country.
the rents are too high and the wages are too low. we are told there is low unemployment rate. i will not be satisfied until i in $1000nch of guys suits blockading my office and some groupss occasionally used to say all my god, we cannot find enough workers. my response will be, have you tried raising wages? cap -- caughtely up with inflation and never caught up with the inflation and the cost of housing in metropolitan areas. up and thisat comes could be controversial, is how large should the unit be.
in europe and japan, each person, even middle-class bank -- middle class and wealthy people, have smaller units for the people living there. if it is our option and our choice, we want to provide every homeless person and how the -- housing endangerment probe -- as many square feet as we could. i will ask first, ms. gallo but maybe mr. watkins were others would,. are we being prevented from building units? the japanese have in forerunners and how to make it look comfortable in less square footage. is that even legal?
>> it is actually legal. building codes are actually quite lenient as it relates to the size of a particular part eligible to be occupied. i will tell you the building codes require 70 square feet per person. 120 square feet for desperate person. so it can be small. that is one reason we see some cities promoting micro units. 325 square feet. i would caution though to make sure that whatever sized unit we are proposing, that it is appropriate for the people living there for long-term sustainability. if it is too small, they will start to accumulate things and it becomes dissatisfying, the size of the apartment. does rick wired thought but can be done. >> has anyone else had i know there are
neighborhoods in this country where if you try and put more than four ounces on acre, they rise up. certainly, housing compliance,ds ada which often times makes a project nearly impossible to complete. more often than not, it's all of the provisions for square footage within a certain we have beenland, trying to put forth a project to build 1000 single occupancy units. we are not sure how far we will get but we think it would be a good response coming out of homelessness by way of incarceration. we are planning that as we speak. i do not know if i answered your question.
thesethese will be small units, single occupancy. >> i have 40 seconds. i yield back. rep. waters: thank you. the chairwoman recognizes the lady from california. >> thank you. i want to thank ms. gallo. thank you for your work. mr. watkins, since the first day that i was a member of congress, i reached out and we have had an opportunity to talk. i learned a lot about the work you are doing in the greater community. i want to thank you for that work. we have done a number of events at the last labor community action committee where you have your location. a little bitk about seniors experiencing homelessness.
housing costs compounded by insufficient retirement income and life calamities are driving more seniors into los angeles streets and l.a. county alone, senior homeless lists spiked 22%. threeally, one of every seniors is eligible for housing assistance because housing programs receive inadequate funding. the existing growing need. can you talk a little bit about what unique needs do older adults have from your experience and how well it is that the homeless services system set up to help them -- can help set them so they can get out of homeless quickly? and maybe share some feedback for us on what congress can be doing to help the situation, to better serve this population? >> we are one of the largest
senior service providers in the county, in the city. we have -- i do not just say this to blow smoke, we have the best crew, the best staff, the best leadership for that work. willis isr, phyllis an absolute expert that is putting input, policy input to the city and county of los angeles on how we should deal with not only the problem of senior homelessness, but seniors that can't get into our places because they are raising children. oftentimes, they have second and third generation children that they are responsible for and can't get out to get the services that we provide. we will go to them, but i think the single largest impediment to seniors availing themselves through the services that are available is information. information that makes them aware of what the possibilities are. where do they go?
what can they ask for? and that number is so much larger than the number that we actually serve that i have to think that that is at least the underbelly of part of that beast. rep. barragan: right. the other thing i want to touch quickly on, i know you are doing work on this, can you share what you are doing in the community to make sure the homeless population will be counted in the census? we know that can have a disastrous impact on funding for services and programs. can you talk about what you are doing in the community that we can all hear about and learn about? mr. watkins: certainly as i said, we are building low income affordable housing, when i say low income, i mean very low income. we have been very low income affordable housing providers for 54 years with nearly 1000 units within five minutes of our headquarters. i said i want to build 1000 single occupancy units, but we
have gotten hundreds more that now need to be rebuilt. that need to be rehabbed. with doing that is the bureaucratic process on what it costs to make a project work. as far as what we are doing to address the problem, i know this afternoon i have a meeting with a gentleman that specializes in container housing. when we thought about doing container housing 15 years ago, we were told it would never make it past city council because it appears as though it is warehousing human beings. we think there is contained -- that container housing is a solution the general, -- congressman spoke about when he talked about small spaces. it can be affordable, it can be completely comfortable with built-in furnishing, it can be people inable to large numbers without needing to build it into the ground. rep. barragan: do you want to
comment on the census? making sure everyone counts on the home -- in the home it -- in the homeless population? mr. watkins: every year we participate in that in our site as a habit where literally, i don't know, 80, 90 people go out to go into the community and count. they have to be very at appetite getting into under the freeway overpasses, down into the canals. like i mentioned earlier, who is living under someone's home. it is a difficult proposition. but it is also made more difficult with the current administrative policy of targeting people that have questionable documentation. us, that hurts watts tremendously, for a community that is 75% hispanic, latino. iscan't even fathom what
going to happen when people that just refused to be counted are left out of the congressional distribution of resources. rep. barragan: thank you for your work and i yield back. rep. waters: thank you. ladies and gentlemen, the mayor of the city of the los angeles has arrived. we are going to continue with our last two questioners, are members of congress, and then some of the discussion that has been going on about what is happening in the city i think will be addressed in the mayor's testimony. mr. mayor, we just have two more members who will be asking questions and then you are on. thank you very much. now, the gentlewoman from texas -- the gentle man from texas, mr. green, will question for five minutes. rep. green: thank you, madam chair. i am, to a certain extent, grateful that i was born into poverty.
because, for a good deal of my life, i saw life from the bottom up as opposed to the top-down. when you see life from the you learn what the true meaning of "but for the grace of god, there go i." '[applause] i arrived early enough to visit what is known as skidrow. i find that name distasteful, by the way. skidrow, and i will tell you that people who talk about this problem based upon what we have read cannot truly appreciate the human see what isss you
happening on what we call skidrow. misfortune in the misfortune of at least one person for me to be there today passed a literally person who had died on the street. this is not an unusual occurrence in that it does not happen all the time, but it happens too often. were homeless,o but also you could sense the hopelessness. you could sense the sense of society has abandoned me. is a human tragedy of
the highest magnitude. and i appreciate what all of you are trying to do to resolve and help us. i appreciate what the city is trying to do. i appreciate the county. but in the final analysis, we have to get more people involved who understand that "but for the grace of god, there ago i." weortunately, mr. watkins, have a person at the highest who, in myhis land opinion, does not appreciate "but for the grace of god, there ago i -- there go i." thatcould have a wish would not cause me to find my way to the gates of hell, it would be that the president
could live one day off of skidrow. i think he would have a different appreciation for the human tragedy that he, as commander-in-chief, should have a greater sense of responsibility for aiding and assisting and resolving. i thank you. i just wanted to let you know that i appreciate you, all of you, for what you are doing. al-mansour, you mentioned a testing. explain again, explain to a limited extent, how important this is in dealing with invidious discrimination. because it is much more pervasive than a good many people would think because if you live your life from the top down, you do not see all of the
suffering that we who have seen it from the bottom up can appreciate. would you kindly explain testing again? ms. al-mansour: it is basically an undercover measure that there are housing organizations use to determine if there is evidence to show that there was any discrimination in applying for a rental unit or applying for a home or home loan. in los angeles, we do rental testing as a housing right center. for someone who is disabled or elderly, maybe have children, oftentimes they know they have been discriminated against because they have reasonable accommodation that has been denied. they asked for a caregiver or support animal or a change in rules. they keep getting late fees which is setting them up for eviction. it is obvious that discrimination is happening, when a family is told your children cannot play outside, you will be evicted if your children makes too much noise. race discrimination is not so
obvious. most people do not say i do not to because you are black, latino, but if a tenant is applying and does not know they have been discriminated against. we have placed similarly situated people in different go apply for that apartment and let us know, how much were you told the rent would be? you told you had -- it is very prevalent and it happens every day and most people never know they have been discriminated against. >> thank you. rep. waters: the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from texas, miss garcia. rep. garcia: i am so appreciative of your efforts to have this hearing and to bring into -- bring a great panel that are a direct provider of the ground. i regret i will not be able to spend the afternoon with some of you to see some of your programs. please know that i truly appreciate all the work you are doing.
when i listen to my colleague from houston talk about growing up from the bottom up, it kind of reminded me of some of my own story. people have often asked me, how did it feel growing up poor? and i just simply tell them, it felt great, i didn't know any better. but i'm glad that you all are there working with people to make sure that you can give them some inspiration, work with so that they can each feel their comfort, feel their comfort level of what space they need in terms of housing because obviously, we know that some folks don't want to be pushed into a house, don't want to be pushed out from that house. there is a certain level of thinking sure that we know what the individual needs and wants. for those of you that mr. haynes -- thank you for sharing your story.
when you look at this issue, what is your best advice to someone about transitioning? how do you approach them? what can we learn from you who has transitioned in terms of helping others to transition, if they choose to? the most important thing is to really listen to what they are saying. we may ask them a question but we will not really listen to their answer. we are just going to tell them, this is what we have. and expect them to make do with what is being offered when it is really not what they need. and we need to let them make their own choices. mr. haynes: yes. rep. garcia: thank you for that. mentioned the domestic violence situation, and you also mentioned some about veterans.
i know from some of my work in texas serving on the veterans committee in the state senate that there are more minority women, black and brown, that are going into the service than ever before. what specific needs or challenges do we have for that population that we need to try to be mindful of as we consider the funding challenges, not only locally, but federally? ms. vizcaino: that is a good question. i'm not sure what the answer is to that. just have more hearings and meetings and let it be brought to the table, the specific needs of the women. it is not like a generalized thing. each one is individual, personalized case. to assembly line everyone whether it be women,
men, a veteran. rep. garcia: do you have any suggestions? it seems like over the years, as i said earlier, i started as a social worker, so i have dealt with a lot of poverty issues throughout my career. it seems like there is more women and children in the homeless population, at least that i have seen in houston. and from the data, it shows there is an increase in usage. individual males, right? now we are seeing more women and children. question, is there any specific different issues that we need to address, specific to that population? ms. gallo: yes. hartman also made references to this in terms of the specialized needs of women. both women unaccompanied as well as women in the military service.
we talkfrequently, when about individuals and families, we are doing exactly that and not focusing on the particular needs of women. i think you are right in noticing an increase. we started serving families, or even women in the early 2000's. when we first started, we were focusing on individuals and mostly males and then we started noticing women out of the streets more often. one of the things we noticed immediately was the level of trauma that they are encountering. and the reasons that led to their homelessness, it was related to domestic violence or intimate partner relationships. the hesitancy of talking about it, it takes a long time to figure out what the issue is. you understand the homelessness, but building the trust and providing that level of services and the mental health support for an individual, for a female, to talk about what led to their homelessness, that is a level of support that we do not quite
push and focus on in the beginning of the services program. i think we are starting to do that with some of the recognition and noticing the increases that have come out for women who are homeless. trauma is a big part of it. recognizing the safety issues related to their discussion of their past histories with domestic violence and it took -- and intimate partner relationships. rep. garcia: thank you. i yelled back. -- i yield back. rep. waters: thank you very much caret i would like to thank our second panel for their testimony here today. i would like to say a very ms. vizcainos to and mr. haynes. to talk aboutk how their lives have been changed. everybody, give a round of applause. [applause]