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Report: LA County needs more than 500,000 new units of affordable housing

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The report recommends cities give developers incentives to build the units

View of apartment complex from across the street
An affordable housing complex in West Hollywood
Michael Locke | Curbed LA Flickr Pool

A new report from the nonprofit California Housing Partnership Corporation indicates that Los Angeles County is woefully short on housing for its lowest-earning residents.

The county needs an overwhelming 551,807 new units of affordable housing to satisfy demand from very low and extremely low-income earners, according to the report. It defines lowest earning as those making less than half the county’s median income, which is $64,300, according to the most recent estimate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The housing advocacy organization argues that cuts in federal and state funding, including the statewide elimination of Community Redevelopment Associations, have contributed to this shortfall.

Since 2008, funding for affordable housing in LA County has fallen 64 percent—a loss of $457 million annually. Last year, city of Los Angeles voters approved a $1.2 billion bond measure for development of housing for the homeless that should help make up for some of that gap, but the money will be distributed over the course of 10 years—limiting its immediate impact.

Meanwhile, rent continues to rise across the county, even as incomes stagnate. According to the report, median rent in LA has gone up 32 percent since 2000, while household income has actually dropped about 3 percent (both figures are adjusted for inflation).

That leaves many renters stretched thin: The report notes that when the cost of housing is considered, LA’s poverty rate increases from around 18 percent to over 25 percent.

The report offers a few recommendations for addressing the affordable housing shortfall. They include providing subsidies and incentives to encourage developers to build affordable units and adoption of a proposed ordinance being considered by the city that would charge developers small “linkage fees” that could be used to construct new affordable units.

The report also notes that other cities could follow in LA’s footsteps and ask voters to approve ballot measures that would pay for construction of new units.