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For years it was just another dreary piece of the downtown Los Angeles backdrop — a vacant lot between the county jail and the rusted hulk of a factory.

But since Thanksgiving, two three-story buildings, flanked by a village of trailer homes, have sprung up on the former industrial site.

When the last touches of landscaping are done next month, the 232-bed Vignes Street development will have shattered the axiom that homeless housing takes years to build and is exorbitantly expensive. From start to finish in under five months and at a cost of about $200,000 per bed, it has shaved years and hundreds of thousands of dollars off a traditional homeless housing project.

“When did we ever think we would be able to do something so fast at such a low cost at such an opportune time?” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who initiated the project with a motion adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 29. “I was amazed. By Oct. 11, the site work had begun.”

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