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Los Angeles Hoping to Use Its Building Boom to Fund More Affordable Housing

Los Angeles has got way less housing than it needs across the board (they're working on it!), but it's especially short on housing that's affordable to people who don't make a lot of money. Mayor Eric Garcetti's got a plan to help build more housing, and now he's unveiled a two-pronged approach for helping build more affordable units, says KPCC: he wants to ask developers to pay a fee that would go toward building affordable housing, and he's proposing a speedier application process ("several months" shorter) for developers who commit to making at least 20 percent of the units in their projects affordable ones.

Funding for affordable housing has taken a big hit from the combination of the dissolution of community redevelopment agencies a few years back (which helped developers build projects in "blighted" areas) and an overall drop in government funding. KPCC reports that the city's coffers for affordable housing "dwindled" to $41 million this summer; the state hasn't put money in since 2011. (By comparison, a report put out that year estimated that getting developers to pay into a fund for affordable housing could generate anywhere from $37 million to $112 million every year.)

And with LA's rents rising, the options for people who can't afford market-rate rents are decreasing (as the number of those people increase); higher rents also mean that landlords don't really have as much of an incentive to accept housing vouchers like Section 8. Add to that the fact that about 15,000 contracts for affordable housing are set to expire over the next five years, and the future of affordable housing in LA is looking really grim.

Garcetti's developer fund idea would go both towards keeping the affordable housing the city already has (paying those landlords whose contracts would expire to extend them) and building new affordable housing. But so far it's not been decided whether the money would come from only residential developers or if commercial developers would have to contribute as well. There're also no numbers on how much the fees might add up to.
· Mayor Garcetti asks developers to help fund affordable housing [SCPR]
· Los Angeles Building Way More Housing, But Not Nearly Enough [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles's Big Plan For Pulling Out of Its Housing Crisis [Curbed LA]