Supervisors want county-funded housing to allow residents with pets

FILE PHOTO. Chia, an eight-week old female, yorkie/ chihuahuamix at Pets N Suds in Valencia. Dan Watson/The Signal

County supervisors put the gears in motion Tuesday to ensure all county-funded housing units allow residents to have pets.

Under the plan, homeless shelters and affordable housing units funded by Los Angeles County will allow their residents to have pets.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion calling on the affected county agencies to come up with a draft ordinance requiring all county-funded housing units to allow residents to have pets.

The motion, submitted by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis, calls on the director of the Homeless Initiative, Chief Executive Office, the director of Animal Care and Control and the executive director of the Community Development Commission, to return to the board in 90 days with a draft ordinance that would institute pet-friendly housing.

In making the decision, supervisors looked at the lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles County, homelessness and the importance of owning a pet.

It’s hard enough finding affordable housing without being told you can’t have pets, they said.

Pet-friendly housing in Los Angeles County has consistently ranked as one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, Barger and Solis noted in the documents they made available to their fellow supervisors.

A lack of rental housing affordable to lower-income households, they said, exceeds a deficit of 550,000 housing units – leading to upward pressure on rents.

Between 2000 and 2017, median rent in Los Angeles County rose 32 percent, while the median renter household income dropped 3 percent during the same period.

Renters must earn more than four times the local minimum wage to afford the May 2018 Los Angeles County median rent of $2,610.

On any given night in L.A. County, there are 39,396 unsheltered homeless individuals, according to the latest 2018 homeless count.

Many of the households affected by the difficult housing market, including those experiencing homelessness, have pets that serve as companions, support, and security, Barger and Solis said in explaining their motion.

For seniors and people with disabilities, a companion animal may be a pet owner’s only connection and source of comfort, they said.

The bond between people and their pets is integral to their physical and mental well-being from childhood throughout the life cycle.

Many private landlords and most homeless shelters have restrictions that prohibit pets, leading to the difficult choice between relinquishing a beloved pet and maintaining a place to live.

Further, according to Barger and Solis, homeless persons may forego important appointments that can lead to services connections, like medical appointments, because they are unable to make accommodations for their pet.

Statistics compiled by public animal shelters and animal welfare organizations have shown that one of the most prominent reasons given by pet guardians for relinquishing their animals is their inability to find rental housing that allows pets.

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