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Is fixing up this Westlake building a lifesaver or a ‘waste of taxpayer money’?

In a bid to get homeless veterans off the streets, Los Angeles awarded more than $10 million to help transform an unfussy building in Westlake into supportive housing.

Now critics are arguing that the money should be pulled. The reason?

“One set of extremely poor residents were displaced to make way for another set of extremely poor residents,” attorneys from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Western Center on Law and Poverty wrote to the city on behalf of the Los Angeles Community Action Network. “This is, at best, a waste of taxpayer money.”

The Royal Park Motel — now known as West Third Apartments — had recently been home to some residents who accused their landlord of illegally booting them out of their units. Just before the building was sold for the new project, those tenants had reached a settlement with their landlord that included payouts and a chance for other former residents to return.

Nonprofit and construction executives on the development team for the project are outraged by the idea of yanking the $10.2 million, saying they had no connection to the former owner accused of pushing out residents.

Their planned project, they said, will take a building that was unsafe and barely occupied and turn it into desperately needed housing for more than 100 homeless veterans.

Pulling the money “would be devastating and preposterous,” said Tod Lipka, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Step Up, arguing that the project was eligible and properly funded under Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion bond for homeless housing. “Without housing, veterans are going to die on the street.”

Read Full Article (via LA Times)

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