The estimated 1.7 million vacant buildings in the nation that could be converted to ease the nation's homeless crisis are of little help to the Southland, where vacant and abandoned buildings are rare or non-existent, according to a preliminary study by the Washington-based National Institute of Building Sciences.
The study, "Meeting America's Housing Needs . . . Through Rehabilitation of Existing Housing and Vacant Buildings," calls for modifications in zoning regulations, building codes and financing to house the nation's estimated 400,000 to 4 million homeless, according to Rene A. Henry Jr., president of the organization.
Speaking at a Century City news conference, Henry called for "humble rehabilitation" of vacant and abandoned buildings.
"This means relaxing or changing regulations and financing plans that make adaptive reuse of old structures too expensive for the private sector and subsequently too costly for those who need the housing," he said.
Henry said NIBS will hold fact-finding forums in Los Angeles, New York, New Orleans, St. Louis and Chicago later this year to compile data for a final report expected to be released early next year. Vice President George Bush and Congress requested the NIBS report.