The sooner we build housing for homeless people, the sooner they can get off the sidewalk

Building housing is a long, slow affair. It’s even slower when developers are building housing for homeless people. Just cobbling together financing from myriad sources can take up to two years, and then there’s the permitting, the political haggling, the inevitable negotiations with neighbors. So it’s encouraging to see two different attempts to speed up this lumbering process.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has created an ambitious plan for revamping its West L.A. campus and building or renovating 1,200 units of housing for homeless vets, announced that it has hired a principal developer to oversee the rollout. A group of three development firms has formed a company to take charge of the project, work with the community and oversee the other developers who will be hired to build the housing. The principal developer’s job is to set a brisk pace and keep the project moving — although in this case, a brisk pace may be wishful thinking. This is a huge task; the VA is essentially building a new town on its grounds. But the principal developer must, at the very least, keep the project from derailing.

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