[Hpn] LA officials consider affordable housing fund;11/8/01
Morgan W. Brown
Thu, 08 Nov 2001 10:56:15 -0500
Thursday, November 8, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle <http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle>
Breaking News Sections
LA officials consider affordable housing fund
PAUL CHAVEZ, Associated Press Writer
With BC-CA--Affordable Housing-Glance
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nearly 500 people, some of them homeless, marched on
City Hall demanding money for a $100 million affordable housing fund they
say will keep people off the street.
One in nine rental units in the city are in substandard condition and
thousands of people are homeless each night, Councilman Eric Garcetti told
"In a world-class city like Los Angeles, in the richest nation in the world,
these conditions are not acceptable," he said.
The rally highlighted the affordable-housing crisis gripping Los Angeles,
which is attempting to make good on a pledge by Mayor James Hahn to find
capital for the housing trust fund.
Similar funds exist in more than three dozen states and nearly four dozen
cities, including Boston, St. Louis, Seattle, Chicago, Sacramento and San
Diego. They also exist in six dozen counties, including Northern
California's Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley and one of the least
affordable areas in the nation.
Securing funding for the affordable housing trust fund will be difficult
given the downturn in the economy that existed even before the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, said Garcetti, a member of the council's housing and
community redevelopment committee.
"In difficult times it makes it more challenging, but it also makes it more
important, too," Garcetti said. "Bad times exacerbate the crisis and that
means leadership must step up."
An investment in affordable housing could stimulate the economy by providing
construction jobs in the short-term and increased consumer spending down the
road, said Tim O'Connell, director of legislation and policy for Century
Housing Corp., which provides affordable housing financing.
Economic concerns have prevented some cities in Massachusetts from levying a
surcharge of up to 3 percent on property taxes to fund affordable housing,
open space and historical preservation projects, said Nicolas Retsinas,
director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
"The irony, of course, is that in a slowing economy this is probably the
best time to use these kinds of resources," Retsinas said. "There are
probably more opportunities to create affordable housing in down times than
there are in opportune times."
Funding for the housing trust fund couldn't come soon enough for Gary West,
48, who said he recently became homeless after his landlord stopped
accepting federal Section 8 vouchers that subsidize poor renters.
West, who participated in the downtown rally wearing jeans and a "God Bless
America" T-shirt, said he can't find landlords in the San Fernando Valley
who will accept the federal vouchers.
"I've been in the valley for 28 years and now I'm staying in a homeless
shelter," he said.
Affordable housing advocates and those caught in the housing crisis carried
signs that read "Don't Make Grandmas Homeless" and "Minimum Wage Doesn't Pay
the Rent." Others held placards reading "2500" -- roughly the number of
eviction processes started each month in the city.
The City Council, which approved the Affordable Housing Trust Fund concept
last July, is expected to consider financing plans for it by the end of this
An advisory committee has suggested a scenario that includes spending more
of the city's federal dollars on housing and earmarking 25 percent of
receipts from the city's business license tax. Other funding options include
transferring a percentage of the Department of Water and Power revenue from
the general fund and allocating money from the document transfer tax on real
The city also is considering a zoning policy that would force developers to
include affordable housing in their projects or pay a fee that would go
toward the trust fund.
Funding for the trust fund is projected at $71.1 million for the next fiscal
year and is expected to reach $103.3 million by fiscal year 2005.
On the Net:
Out of Reach 2001: www.nlihc.org/oor2001/
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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