The Los Angeles County Supervisors recently devised a $100 million-a-year plan to combat the rampant issue of affordable housing by 2020. The affordable housing fund, authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, was led last month by a unanimous vote in favor. The fund seeks to construct and maintain affordable housing, which might include rental subsidies and welfare programs such as aid in healthcare, law enforcement, social services and land use planning. But the plan of action for the project is still unclear. And since it is confusing where the funding will derive from, the plan seems to be nothing but ambitious. Los Angeles and its constituents cannot afford another decade of uncertainty. Similar to the Los Angeles Affordable Housing Trust Fund, this too seeks to initiate momentum for change in the housing markets, but this scene is all too familiar. Though L.A. policymakers realize the necessity to fund such projects, they fail to account for the necessity of public transparency.
Millennials are leaving Los Angeles. A wave of disenchanted Gen Y’ers and even Gen X’ers who cannot afford the expensive housing are relocating to reside in Whittier, La Habra and La Mirada, yet make the commute each day to work in the city. Meanwhile, prices in Whittier, for example, are steadily increasing, contributing to the problem of gentrification and the cycle of poverty. The median home price in Los Angeles is $640,000, according to Trulia, while the average apartment rental in the city is more than $2,000 per month. According to Matt Schwartz, president and chief executive officer of the California Housing Partnership Corporation, Angelenos must earn at least $33 per hour, which translates to $68,640 a year, to be able to afford the average price for an apartment in Los Angeles.
While the Los Angeles City Council proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour temporarily lessens the burden on workers, it does nothing to combat the issue of affordable housing. Policymakers in Los Angeles might issue concerns to create a plan that works in conjunction with uplifting our poorest workers while fixing issues of affordable housing.
Viable steps to move Los Angeles forward hinge on the creation of a readily educated workforce with skills equipped to move beyond middle class jobs, tax incentives to hire local workers and permanent housing developments, which do not put the existing property prices at a disadvantage. One of the plan’s vital elements direct policymakers to fix the problem before it happens: preservation of pre-existing low cost apartments which are arranged to transition to market-rate rent prices. In doing so, current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a plan to create a fee on developers to fund affordable housing which is thought to generate anywhere from $37-112 million per year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Garcetti said he would study and ultimately propose the city’s first ever fee on developers to fund affordable housing. A fee for commercial and residential developments could generate $37-112 million a year. But developers and homeowner associations in opposition to the proposed mandates allocated to generate funding for low-income housing explain that the higher density could create mixed income housing projects to dissolve, while public funding is redirected to new crises, the L.A. Times editorial board notes.
Angelenos are tired of waiting for something to change. Let’s fight for funding to combat homelessness and poverty in Los Angeles. Finally, let’s see where the end of this year will take us.
Sarah Dhanaphatana is a junior majoring in political science. She is also deputy features editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Dhanapolitics,” runs Fridays.