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One California county develops a creative plan for combating homelessness

Los Angeles County is launching a pilot program aimed at addressing the growing homeless epidemic. The plan allows homeowners in unincorporated areas to build second dwellings on their property to house the homeless. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

With its staggering homeless population, which spiked to 55,000 this year, Los Angeles County decided to try a different approach to solving its growing epidemic.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to pay homeowners in unincorporated areas to build second dwellings on their property to house the homeless, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Unlike traditional guest houses, dwellings have a full kitchen, which makes it completely independent from the property's primary home.

Homeowners who qualify for the program will be broken up into two categories. The first category gives homeowners with existing dwellings $50,000 to update and legalize their structure. The second category is for homeowners who do not have a dwelling but are zoned for them. They will receive up to $75,000 to build.

According to Connie Chung, the supervising regional planner, funding would allow homeowners to build two to three new dwellings or remodel two to three currently standing dwellings.

The pilot program will begin with $550,000 and is expected to be completed within 18 months, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

The decision to launch the pilot program came after county residents in March voted in favor of Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax increase that is expected to raise $355 million annually over the next 10 years. Funding from Measure H will be utilized to help homeless people transition to more affordable housing options. And Proposition HHH, a parcel tax that Los Angeles city residents voted on in November, is expected to raise $1.2 billion to build 10,000 housing units.

Now the question becomes: What are the stipulations behind the program's qualifications and how long must a homeowner house homeless people for before their second dwelling is "paid off"?

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