Kaid Benfield Archive


LA mayor’s bold plan for affordable, sustainable housing

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 20, 2008 at 2:30PM

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Occidental College professor Peter Dreier has a post up on the Rooflines blog about Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's bold new proposal for affordable housing in LA.  In particular, Dreier writes:

"Villaraigosa's plan involves bringing together the city's crazy-quilt of housing and development agencies to forge a comprehensive approach that both expands the supply of affordable housing and protects the existing inventory of rent-regulated and subsidized housing. Villaraigosa pledged to:

  • "Allocate $200 million a year for five years from various sources to build affordable housing. The city's funds would leverage an additional $4 billion in state housing funds and private sources. Harbor Village public housing in LA (by: HACLA)Villaraigosa announced that Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit financier of affordable housing, has already pledged $700 million.
  • "Adopt an "inclusionary zoning" law requiring developers of market-rate housing to guarantee that at least one-fifth of the units are within reach of low-income and middle class families.
  • "Embrace a "Sustainable Communities Initiative" to encourage the development of 20 pedestrian-oriented, mixed-income neighborhoods along key transit corridors. In a city famous for its sprawl, single-family bungalows, and car-oriented culture, Villaraigosa has been pushing city planners to revise zoning laws to permit higher-density development, bus line #76 in LA (by: Frederick Dennstedt, creative commons license)especially downtown and near major subway and bus stops. Some neighborhood groups in affluent areas have opposed the mayor's plans, but he has insisted that the rising price of gas and LA's status as the nation's most-polluted city demand a new approach.
  • "Build 2,200 units of permanent supportive housing to get homeless people off the streets and provide them with mental healthcare, drug treatment and other rehabilitation services, as well as making more Section 8 rental assistance vouchers available for homeless people.
  • "Buy and rehabilitate foreclosed homes and turn them into affordable housing.
  • "Strengthen the city's protections for tenants facing rising rents and evictions when developers tear down affordable buildings and replace them with expensive apartments and condominiums. He stopped short of supporting Housing LA's call for a moratorium on demolitions and condo conversions, but he has embraced a plan to require a one-for-one replacement of any affordable apartments lost to gentrification and demolition.

Pueblo del Sol, mixed-income housing in LA (by: ULI)"The plan ambitiously calls for 20,000 new homes that will be affordable to people across the economic spectrum with nearly seven out of 10 new homes being affordable to people with incomes below $42,000 . . ."

This is ambitious, to say the least.  Especially now.  And, if successful, it will address what has become a severe shortage of workforce housing in a city where, at the beginning of this year, the median price for a single-family home was $470,000 and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1740 per month.  Dreier also reports that the city has the largest homeless population in the country, 48,000 people, and that 10,000 are expected to lose their homes to foreclosure this year.

Read the entire post on Rooflines here, or on the Huffington Post here.