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LA Councilman Wants to Pay Some Landlords to Keep Their Rents Affordable

A rallying cry of "build, baby, build!" has, for many developers and politicians, become the go-to solution for the great Los Angeles housing crunch. Councilman Gil Cedillo is proposing a new solution: keep what we've got and keep it cheap. KPCC reports Cedillo has proposed a subsidy for landlords who extend existing agreements they made with the city to keep their rents affordable. He wants to use $9 million in "excess bond proceeds" (left over from the redevelopment agency dissolution) to maintain below-market-rent prices on properties in his district whose owners elect to continue their affordable rent agreements with the city.
Over 15,000 affordable housing units are estimated to be lost over the next five years as their reduced rent contracts with the city expire. Building developers entering into these agreements with the city agreed to lower rents for a set number of years in exchange for financial incentives during construction. The expiration of an agreement would allow landlords to raise rents on their units to market value (i.e. more expensive than the people living there might be able to afford).

"Rather than have tenants move out, be in crisis, we simply go to the landlord and extend the relationship," Cedillo, whose District 1 includes parts of Northeast LA, Chinatown, Westlake, and Echo Park, tells KPCC.

If the plan is successful, Cedillo hopes other districts will tap into the $84 million that was made available to the city's 15 districts when the Community Redevelopment Agency was dissolved four years ago and follow suit, says the City News Service.

Some are dubious. Jim Clarke of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles doesn't want landlords to be bullied into the program and says that the AAGLA would "insist" that landlords "have a clear choice whether or not to enter any new rent subsidy program."

The proposal's expected to be up for discussion in the Housing Committee soon. —Jeff Wattenhofer
· What happens when LA's affordable housing contracts expire? [KPCC]
·L.A. Councilman Gil Cedillo wants to spend $9M to help keep housing affordable [LADN]