LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday that it will award nearly $20 million to the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles to make improvements to public housing properties.

The funding was part of a series of housing improvement grants awarded nationwide, totaling $2.7 billion. The L.A. County Development Authority also received around $7.1 million. The funds are provided through HUD’s Capital Fund Program, which offers annual funding to about 2,900 public housing authorities to build, repair, or improve public housing.

The funding comes one day after HUD Secretary Ben Carson visited Los Angeles as part of his Driving Affordable Housing Across America Bus Tour. As chair of the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, Carson established the bus tour to hear directly from communities across the country about their experience with barriers to affordable housing.

While in Los Angeles, Carson made a stop at the University of Southern California to participate in a panel on homelessness. Several L.A. elected officials attended the panel, which focused primarily on affordable housing stock.

On Thursday, USC’s Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy released results from a new statewide poll that showed nearly 23 percent of respondents indicated homelessness or housing was top of mind leading into the March 3 primary election.

More than one-quarter of California voters personally know someone who is homeless, the survey found. The possibility of ending up without a home is also a concern voters have voiced. Many of the California voters surveyed said they fear that they or someone they love could become homeless. These results co-exist with nearly half of the state, 44 percent, rating the economy as excellent or good.

Voters also want funds spent on monitoring visible signs of homelessness in their communities, according to the USC poll.

“This new poll provides undisputable evidence that the homelessness crisis is impacting more people, families and communities across the state than ever before,” said USC Price School Dean Jack Knott in a statement. “It’s imperative that we continue to encourage innovative thinking and smart solutions that can help communities create more short- and long-term affordable housing options to address this chronic, vexing problem.”

On Tuesday, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin released a series of recommendations aimed at expanding the affordable housing stock in L.A., including an option for the city to start a social housing program.

The HUD funding is expected to be distributed in March or April, according to HUD. HACLA officials said that the housing authority has not made plans for the funds yet and will announce more once the money has been distributed. Housing authorities, including the HACLA, typically use these grants to complete large-scale improvements such as replacing roofs or making energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems, according to HUD.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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