Creating Affordable Supportive Housing
Los Angeles is suffering from an acute housing shortage crisis. Angelenos living on a fixed income, those with a low-income and middle-class workers are trying to figure out how to stay housed. Rent prices are too high which is forcing people to use half of their income to keep a roof over their heads. Many who were living in overcrowded conditions during the pandemic fell victim to COVID-19 at an alarmingly high rate.
Underproduction of housing units decade after decade is the culprit that led to L.A.’s housing shortage. A confluence of factors have contributed to this underproduction. Key issues have been infrequent updates to community plans, Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) housing opponents, uncertainty in the building permit process, L.A. building fees (that cost up to $60,000 per unit), as well as high labor, and material costs. The worst factor in the mix has been the elected officials in office over the last several years. They have not done the required job of leading, planning and educating the public about the need to accommodate for future growth for our workers, children, and grandchildren.
This lack of strategic leadership has led to the housing unaffordability we are seeing. Apartment rental costs are so high that recent college graduates feel stressed and depressed because they cannot afford to move out of their parents’ home and into their own spaces. In today’s market, with housing prices creeping up to $800,000 for a starter home, only a few working families can afford to buy a house or condo. Historic communities are being gentrified and long-term residents are being displaced from their neighborhoods.
Demographers and housing experts say that high housing costs is one of the main reasons that companies with good-paying jobs are leaving the state. As these companies leave, low and middle-class households are packing their bags and moving to follow the jobs; we are seeing more and more of our kids and grandchildren leaving to maintain gainful employment.
Mel’s housing vision
I researched and discovered the solutions to L.A.’s housing shortage crisis. In short, we need to build more housing faster and at a lower cost while preserving our quiet enclaves of single-family neighborhoods. We can do this by planning for our future, engaging the public, bringing more certainty in the homebuilding process, using innovative construction techniques, and by reducing, and waiving building fees in return for building housing and apartment units that Angelenos can afford.
To begin, the public needs to be engaged in the planning process from the offset rather than as an afterthought. Community plans need to be updated every 6-10 years to accommodate for future growth and demographic movement. The public must be allowed to be engaged in the process from the start to the finish of each community plan. The City must invest the required funds (through public and/or private sources) to maintain adequate, professional planning, and environmental, and administrative staff.
There are 35 community planning areas in the City of Los Angeles. Each community planning area will be required to conduct an objective master plan, complete with an environmental study that will be good for the duration of the area’s community plan. We will add a caveat to the community planning process as well. If the City falls short of updating a community plan within the 6-10-year planning period, the City will not be able to approve construction of more than 200 units beyond the total quantity allowed in the area’s previously approved community plan.
Environmental studies will be the housing production “road maps” that builders can reply upon, which will include land use, circulation, housing, conservation open space, noise and safety as the mandatory elements of the community plan. Housing production incentives will be available for low- and moderate-income projects that are in areas designated as Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) and Commercial Corridor (CC) planning areas.
Priorities will be offered for housing and mixed-use projects that have a high walkability and open space rating.
Jobs Housing Balance
Builders will be encouraged to develop work-live projects, childcare, and other smart growth initiatives, near transit corridors and commercial corridors.
My Housing Wealth Creation Program will help fund down payment assistance for 15,000 middle-class first-time buyer households. The fund will assist households that have not owned a home in the last three (3) years in buying a home or condo within the City of Los Angeles. This plan will be used to beat back gentrification and to stabilize neighborhoods.
L.A. City’s Planning and Building and Safety Departments will defer and waive housing production fees for builders who construct housing units that can be purchased by middle-class households.
My Rental Assistance Program will use federal rental assistance funds to subsidize rental costs for 50,000 extremely low and very low-income individuals/families, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. My team will advocate for and secure funds from state and federal government agencies to house 44,000 unhoused Angelenos, many of whom suffer from mental illness and drug addiction.
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