Military Veterans Speak Out Against Deceptive Housing Ban Billboards

Vets attack ‘blatant lies’ of ‘Yes on S’ billboards, which claim S will house vets—in fact, it would block construction of planned affordable housing


LOS ANGELES, CA -- Today military veterans spoke out after becoming the latest targets of misleading statements by the Yes on S campaign.

“For Yes on S to suggest that a Yes vote would help end homelessness is an insult to all men and women who served their country—and an attack on those who have come home and need help,” said Don Garza, a formerly homeless Marine Corps vet and homelessness advocate who credits permanent supportive housing with saving his life. “The struggle to end veterans homelessness is fighting a rising tide. Voters did the right thing by voting for Prop HHH in November, But voting Yes on S would be the single worst thing anyone could do if they want to help solve veteran homelessness. Our vets will lose thousands of planned affordable apartments, including many planned specifically for veterans. 

Yes on S has paid for billboards and mailings (LINK) that show a man in fingerless gloves holding a sign that says “House Our Vets,” and includes statistics about homeless vets and claims about rent-stabilized housing. But veterans and the affordable housing advocates seeking to end veteran homelessness agree that Measure S would make life much harder for homeless veterans, and would accelerate the loss of rent-stabilized housing.

As this morning's Los Angeles Times put it in a scathing editorial, "Measure S does nothing to help homeless veterans.  In fact, 'S' would make it harder to build housing for homeless vets because it would impose a two-year moratorium on real estate projects that require a zone change, a height increase or an amendment of the city’s General Plan — all fairly common requests in a city with terribly outdated planning rules."

“Too many veterans have too hard a time coming home, and Measure S would make coming home harder—if it doesn’t take home away entirely,” said Jason Zigler, an army veteran, third-year IBEW Local 11 apprentice, and vice chair of the IBEW Local 11 Veteran's Caucus. “Eliminating 24,000 jobs will make it harder for veterans to join the workforce. Banning a third of all affordable housing will leave more veterans on the streets.”

"Little Tokyo Service Center is working on a mixed-use affordable housing project in Little Tokyo that includes veterans,” said Dean Matsubayashi, Executive Director of the Little Tokyo Service Center. “But Measure S would stop us from being able to do this, so we need Los Angeles voters to vote No on S so we can house and provide much needed services to vets." The planned development would include 74 affordable units for veterans. Because it would need a General Plan Amendment, its construction would be banned by Measure S -- not only for the two years of the initial moratorium, but permanently, unless the community plan is updated to allow it.

“Homeless veterans should expect no favors to get into new housing any faster if Measure S passes,” said Mike Alvidrez, Chief Executive Officer of the Skid Row Housing Trust, which has developed housing for veterans (The Six in Westlake). “Like all other homeless people who are waiting for new housing to be built, our veterans will receive yet another slap in the face from Measure S proponents.  Shameful!”

Misleading statements about veterans line up neatly with outright lies about affordable housing. While the Yes campaign describes its a permanent ban on nearly all General Plan Amendments, vital for affordable housing production, as a simple two-year “time out,” analysis of building records shows that is “affordable housing exemption” will ban 95% of all affordable housing it touches, 9 out of 10 city-owned affordable housing opportunity sites, and 33% of all affordable housing proposed in the last five years.

“If Measure S passes it would remove a low-eviction development method and make our housing crisis worse,” said policy analyst Mark Vallianatos, co-founder of Abundant Housing LA. “The planning tools banned by Measure S allow housing construction on parking lots and old, abandoned industrial properties, sparing the need to demolish existing housing or use the Ellis Act to turn rent-stabilized apartments into condominiums. A Los Angeles Times analysis demonstrated that only tiny fractions of both evictions and the loss of RSO units comes from the projects that Measure S would ban. In fact, analysis of city building records demonstrates that the kind of construction banned by Measure S demolishes existing housing up to 100 times slower than ordinary city construction."

The broadest coalition in Los Angeles history, including labor and business, homelessness advocates and tenants’ rights leaders, academics, environmentalists and urban planners joins military veterans in urging voters to say no to the dangerous, self-serving initiative that will:

  • Create more homelessness in Los Angeles

  • Ban construction on 90% of city-owned affordable housing opportunity sites

  • Eliminate tens of thousands of good jobs with benefits

  • Slash $1.2 billion in wages in its first two years alone

  • Increase rents across the city