A report released this week by the California Housing Partnership paints a grim picture of Los Angeles Housing shortage.
According to the organization's annual Housing Needs Assesment, Los Angeles County has a current shortfall of 516,946 affordable rental units. Citing Census Bureau data, the Housing Partnership finds that the County is home to approximately 750,000 renter households whose incomes meet the very low- and extremely low- thresholds - meaning at or below 50 and 30 percent of the area median income, respectively. However, this population is served by less than 250,000 units catering to those income levels.
This shortfall has emerged as funding for affordable housing development and preservation in Los Angeles County has been slashed by 70 percent over the past decade. The most damaging cuts have come at the state level; the demise of California's Redevelopment Agencies accounts for $275 million in lost annual funding, and is compounded by more than a $140 million reduction in other spending by the state. Likewise, annual Federal investment in affordable housing in Los Angeles County has been cut by more than $75 million since 2008. Total funding has slipped from $705 million in 2008 to just $209 million today - a reduction of nearly $500 million.
The report finds that lower-income households have been disproportionately affected, with 91 percent of extremely low-income households considered "cost burdened," and 79 percent considered "severely cost-burdened." The median rent for the county now stands at $2,471 per month - a level that is affordable to someone earning a minimum of $47.53 per hour.
“It's clear that local affordable housing funding measures are working where they exist,” said Matt Schwartz, CEO and President of the California Housing Partnership in a statement. “What we need now is for the State to provide more local funding tools, such as replacing lost redevelopment funds and lowering the voter threshold so that local voters can more easily take action on the issues that are important to them."
The report, which was made in collaboration with the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, recommends a variety of policy changes, including new sources of funding to take the place of the erstwile redevelopment agencies. Additionally, the report suggests creating an expedited entitlement pathways for affordable developments in Los Angeles County - including an increased threshold for site plan review to 150 dwelling units - and new incentive programs in the vein of the Transit Oriented Communities guidelines.