Torrance secures funding for temporary housing shelter units at Civic Center – Daily Breeze

Torrance has secured funding to buy and build 40 tiny homes that will comprise a new temporary shelter at the Civic Center, city officials announced this week.

The City Council in June approved a plan to create a temporary housing complex for residents who are homeless by erecting the prefabricated, 64-square-foot structures and several support buildings to provide future occupants with showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, power, heat and air conditioning.

The shelter will be between the Police Department and the courthouse in Torrance’s Civic Center, fenced off and monitored by two security guards 24 hours a day.

Construction on the prep work for the 40-unit housing complex began in early December. But that work has been on hold as city staff worked to secure additional funding to purchase the tiny homes, which will cost $614,264.

The city finally has that money, officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 25.

The money will come from four non-city sources, said Deputy City Manager Viet Hoang, ensuring that the project will not put additional pressure on Torrance’s already strained general fund budget.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn will provide the bulk of the money, with $450,000 coming from her Fourth District Homeless and Housing Discretionary Funding, officials said.

“This is money well spent,” Hahn said in a Wednesday, Jan. 26, statement. “These tiny homes are going to be a way we can get people off the street, give them a safe, supportive place to stay, and help them into permanent housing.”

The South Bay Cities Council of Governments will provide an additional $100,000 in funding.

“The South Bay continues to have a homeless problem, and a lot of it has to do with people not having shelter,” Jacki Bacharach, that organization’s executive director, said in an interview Wednesday. “We’re absolutely delighted that we can help Torrance put in these tiny homes, which when they have been put in other places, seem to be very effective.”

That South Bay body, which represents a coalition of cities in the area, received money from the county through Measure H, Bacharach said. Measure H is a voter-approved initiative that, among other things, provides funding for projects meant to address the county’s homelessness crisis.

“Funding actual homes is really the highest and best purpose for the use of these funds,” she said. “It’s a benefit for all of the South Bay.”

Torrance will also use $39,310 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security — or CARES — Act funding, Hoang said, “which the city used last year for rental assistance for Torrance residents.”

The Sares Regis Group, a property management company based in Newport Beach, donated the remaining $24,954. That company could not be reached for comment.

The tiny homes and accompanying structures required to provide future residents with day-to-day necessities will be purchased from and assembled by Pallet, a company based in Washington state, said Assistant City Manager Danny Santana.

Pallet, Santana said Tuesday, is the best option for Torrance’s temporary housing program because that company’s houses have been used by other agencies in the region — including nearby Redondo Beach — for similar projects and can deliver the tiny homes up to 50% faster than competitors.

Pallet’s tiny homes can also be disassembled and relocated if necessary.

Now that the city has selected a manufacturer for the tiny homes, Hoang said, the housing program site design can be finalized and will be fully prepped for the arrival of the Pallet facilities.

The program is still a ways off from being fully up-and-running, though. The city expects the Pallet homes to be delivered sometime in late April or May, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

The next big step for the project, meanwhile, is finding a qualified candidate to serve as the site’s operator.

“The role of the operator is to manage the day-to-day operation of the temporary housing program,” Hoang said, “including providing security 24/7 on site, providing three meals a day to residents, and ensuring the general cleanliness and safety of our temporary housing program.”

The most critical duty of the operator, Hoang said, will be providing the program’s residents with case management, housing navigation services and support services.

This role is necessary,” Hoang said, “to ensure that the individuals who are seeking permanent housing have the support they need to actually obtain permanent housing while they are in our temporary housing facility.”

Requests for proposals from qualified individuals went out directly to 13 candidates on Tuesday, the deputy city manager said. The applications are due by Feb. 14, and Hoang said he expects to bring a selection before the City Council in late March.

Staff will have a more concrete timeline for when the temporary housing site will be complete after the city selects the operator, Hoang said.

Once the program begins, it will undergo a one-year probationary period to determine its long-term viability.

Residents of the temporary housing units will be required to accept certain conditions in order to live there: They must agree to a nightly curfew and they must agree to accept services to help them maintain a path to permanent housing.

The complex will be staffed with a residential aide, a program manager, a case manager and an intake coordinator — who will all work together to ensure residents follow the rules and receive the services they need.

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