by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress
LOS ANGELES – is the second largest city in the United States, with an estimated population of 3.8 million. Though thousands migrate to Los Angeles yearly, housing in Los Angeles remains unaffordable and out of reach for too many middle class families. In 2007, more than 5,200 LA families lost their homes to foreclosure – and that number is expected to rise to 10,000 by the end of 2008. At the same time, parents are spending more than half of their incomes on housing. Only 11 percent of the area’s households can afford a median-priced home and approximately 40,000 people sleep on the streets of the City each night.
As part of his effort to put a roof over the head of all City residents, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently unveiled Housing That Works- a five-year, $5 billion plan to build 20,000 affordable housing units and make Los Angeles a more affordable place of middle-class families to live and work.
“This City’s economic success and vitality depend on our ability to plan for a future of sustainability and stability in our housing market,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “This plan lays the building blocks of housing our middle class can afford and takes the first steps
toward building “housing that works” for all Angelenos.”
Housing That Works represents the first time that all housing and planning departments are coming together in a coordinated effort, with one strategy to invest in affordable housing. This coordinated effort will bring a new level of transparency and stability to the City’s housing investment strategy, which will allow it to leverage $1 billion in public funds into a $5 billion investment in affordable housing throughout local neighborhoods.
The Mayor’s Office will coordinate resources from different departments and develop public/private partnerships to reach the 5 billion dollar goal. The $700 million investment from Enterprise Community Partners is a testament to this new strategy.
“Enterprise is pleased to step forward as an early and major partner in this effort to create fit, affordable and sustainable homes for all residents of the City,” said Doris Koo, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners. “Our pledge of $700 million dollars reflects our commitment to focus Enterprise’s energy and resources into making the City of Los Angeles a vibrant and thriving community,” Koo continued.
Using the funding from this capital campaign, Mayor Villaraigosa’s plan pledges to build and preserve 20,000 affordable homes – double the number of units constructed since the beginning of the Mayor’s time in office. This includes implementing a mixed-income housing ordinance that requires the City’s largest developers to offer units at prices LA’s workforce can afford.
In addition, this initiative will create 20 sustainable transit communities focusing new development in the areas where it makes the most sense – along public transit corridors and close to job centers.
Another key component of Housing That Works involves shifting the City’s strategy from managing homelessness to moving people out of it. The plan funds 2,200 permanent supportive housing units – where homeless men and women are connected to social services – and expands Section 8 voucher programs for the chronically homeless. It also puts the pieces in place to complete the redevelopment of Jordan Downs and transform
LA’s public housing sites into vibrant, mixed-income communities.
The final part of Mayor Villaraigosa’s plan will protect LA’s homes and neighborhoods by addressing the foreclosure crisis through the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative; preserving the affordability of 14,000 rental units; and educating Angelenos about their rights as landlords and tenants.
Housing That Works takes the first steps in the City’s effort to address these challenges, reverse the negative trends of recent years, and bridge the ever-growing gap between the housing LA produces and the housing it needs.
The city departments and agencies included in Housing That Works are: the LA Housing Department, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, the Community Redevelopment Agency, the LA Homelessness Services Authority, and the Planning Department. (www.asianjournal.com)