Central City Association of Los Angeles released a white paper with recommendations to encourage larger-scale affordable housing to better serve economically vulnerable residents and meet the magnitude of the city’s compounding affordable housing and homelessness crises.
Currently, a web of laws and funding restrictions is structured to promote moderate-scale projects averaging about 65 units of housing each that take several years to deliver.
“We know we need more housing at all income levels; LA must add nearly 500,000 units in the next eight years, with nearly half of those units being deed-restricted affordable,” said Jessica Lall, president and chief executive officer of CCA. “Reaching these goals requires bold leadership that honestly addresses breakdowns in our existing system and welcomes industry innovation.”
CCA’s white paper offers industry-backed recommendations for developing larger-scale affordable housing projects to better utilize public funding and unlock more 100% privately funded, deed-restricted affordable housing.
Recommendations include strategically streamlining local zoning laws, allowing mass timber construction in dense areas of the city, creating an LA County affordable housing agency and revising public funding rules to incentivize higher-volume housing developments, among other strategies.
“We must continue to refine our approach if we want to help economically vulnerable Angelenos and achieve our affordable housing production goals,” Lall said. “Encouraging larger projects that can bring more units online at one time is one worthwhile strategy. Larger projects can be designed in a thoughtful manner that respects neighborhoods and incorporates an appropriate level of services for residents.”
LA needs 23,000 more affordable housing units built each year for the next eight years, a large share of which will likely need to be created by 100% affordable housing developments. However, the city only approves about 2,100 housing units in 100% affordable projects annually (about 30 projects with roughly 65 housing units each). If affordable housing projects continue to be built at the current average scale, meeting LA’s goals would require at least 139 more 100% affordable housing projects to be built each year.
“We need to add tools to the toolbox by creating or realigning public funding sources, including by establishing the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency, which would allow for a regional housing department with the power and a new dedicated funding source to finance projects,” said Sen. Sydney Kamlager, who represents Downtown in the California state Senate.
“My bill, SB 679, would start this process, and I’m proud to have CCA’s support on this critical initiative and appreciate their recognition of funding impacts to bringing more affordable housing online.”
“Weingart’s three towers planned for Downtown were designed with the highest levels of care and attention for the people who will be living in them, and effectively maximize economies of scale,” said retired Sen. Kevin Murray, CEO of Weingart Center.
“We are providing nearly 700 units across three projects — more than three times the amount of typical affordable housing projects — and delivering on our mission of empowering and transforming lives with innovative solutions designed to break the cycle of homelessness.”