UCLA has put out kind of a bummer of a report (pdf) on workforce housing--it says that most Angelenos are just completely priced out. But it also offers some recommendations, specifically pushing for more transit connections between areas with jobs and areas with affordable-ish housing (it cites the Expo Line, which runs from Downtown to Culver City and eventually Santa Monica, as a prime opportunity) and suggesting that Metro take a more active role in development. It also recommends that governments make it easier for developers to build and to build densely. The study was commissioned by the Los Angeles Business Council (which is devoted to "environmental and economic sustainability") and written by UCLA Anderson School of Management lecturer/developer Pal Habibi, so keep in mind this has a business-based bent. Here are some of the findings and recommendations:
-- Average rents are $1,797 per month, but the average household can only afford $1,325.
-- Median income earners in LA County can afford a house worth $200,000, but the median housing price is something like $300,000.
-- There's a shortage of new housing being built--the Southern California Association of Governments says the county needs 22,500 new units a year through 2021; only 13,100 units are being developed this year.
-- "Only New York and San Francisco have lower levels of housing affordability than Los Angeles."
-- Middle income earners--people making between $42,400 and $63,600 per year--"fall into a housing 'donut hole' by earning too much to qualify for subsidized affordable housing, but too little to afford the high-end market-rate housing preferred by developers."
And as for what can be done about the shortage:
-- The areas around the Expo and Blue Lines have a ton of potential: the Expo will "create new access to affordable land in several neighborhoods in L.A. and Culver City south of the 10 freeway that are ideal for workforce housing. Similarly, residential areas along the Blue Line south of Downtown are also ripe for cost-effective workforce housing development."
-- There's also a major need for more local connections that cover that last mile or so: "Approximately 200,000 people live within a quarter-mile of a rail stop in Los Angeles County, but six times that number – 1.24 million – live within one mile." The report suggest options like streetcars, shuttles, flat-rate taxis, and "'mobility hubs' with options such as bicycles, scooters and shared cars."
-- Measure J, the extension of the Measure R sales tax, could go a long way in funding these kinds of transportation projects.
-- Metro should give money to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund or others funding workforce housing, and it should look into "acquiring parcels not used explicitly for transportation infrastructure."
-- The reports suggests that cities give developers density bonuses (allowing them to build bigger than the zoning would ordinarily allow) for projects along transit corridors.
-- It also suggests that public agencies or governments act in place of the now-dead redevelopment agencies, which helped ease and fund development in targeted areas.
-- "The Planning Department and other agencies should encourage more pedestrian-friendly streetscapes around planned transit stops (such as along the Crenshaw Corridor and Phase 1 of the Expo Line)."
· Building Livable Communities (pdf) [LA Business Council]