February 28, 1990 - From the February, 1990 issue

Housing Corner: Newly-Formed Los Angeles Housing Partnership Plans to Spend $100 Million on Affordable Housing

The affordable housing crisis is being tackled from all sides by the City of Los Angeles. David Kramer, editor of The Planning Report, reports on the recent effort made by the Los Angeles Housing Partnership for affordable housing. Included at the end of the article is a section on the community-based developer, Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation.

In early March, housing advocates will officially announce the creation of the Los Angeles Housing Partnership, a public private partnership which plans to build 1,000 affordable units each year in the City of Los Angeles.

The Housing Partnership, a brainchild of the report of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Affordable Housing presented last year, is intended to mobilize existing resources to fill critical needs in the housing delivery system.

The purpose of the Partnership will be twofold: to focus charitable donations on land acquisition and pre-development funds and to focus corporate low-income housing tax credits on projects packaged with other funds.

The Partnership will then work as the developer on housing projects or joint venture with a community-based non-profit housing developer. “Currently there is a critical missing link in tying up property and holding it until it can be developed,” states Gary Squier, executive director of the new partnership. “Community based developers don’t have the cash, and you can’t be competitive in tying down property with a $5,000 deposit.”

Squier, formerly the Housing Coordinator for Mayor Bradley, briefly headed the Housing Authority before taking on his current position.

In order to finance the development of these units, Squier plans to pursue housing tax credits, charitable donations and governmental subsidies. The Partnership anticipates that $30 million will be available through tax credits to be developed into an equity fund that would provide site acquisition funds and revolving loans for non­profit developers. Through the tax credit requirements, the affordable housing built must maintain rents at 60% of median income. For a Los Angeles two bedroom apartment, that means a monthly rent of approximately $482. Typical multi-family development in Los Angeles cannot rent a similar unit for less than $900.

To achieve its housing goals, the Partnership must match its tax credit funds with governmental subsidies. Squier expects to receive funds from traditional sources such as the Community Redevelopment Agency, which has a $60 million housing budget, the Community Development Department, as well as state funds from Proposition 84, Proposition 77 and Century Freeway funds targeted to replace affordable housing. State funding, in particular, is one source of funding which L.A. has not tapped out its full potential, notes Squier.

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The 1,000 units will cost approximately $100,000 per unit. Given the City’s annual deficit in housing production of 10,000 affordable units—as reported by the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee—the City still has much work ahead to relieve its housing crisis.

“There is still a lot we can do to lower the cost of affordable housing by community based developers,” notes Squier. “We could waive City fees and school fees or possibly reduce parking requirements. But there has been no serious proposal yet to expedite the process for affordable housing projects.”

Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation: A Successful Community Based Developer

Most of the projects undertaken by the Los Angeles Housing Partnership will be joint ventures with one of the approximately 20 community based developers in the City. One of the most successful community-based developers to provide very low-income units is the Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation.

Created seven years ago by architect Arnold Stalk, this non-profit builds shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing for the urban poor. Dependent upon private donations, foundation support, and governmental help (primarily the CRA), Family Housing employs a modern approach to design to build livable spaces for its tenants. In addition, all people who live in the housing have access to a social worker. Success comes from this confluence of design with social service in a low-density environment.

“Low-income housing projects should be under 20 units,” states Arnold Stalk. “I just read about a 110 unit project which was accepted. That’s a blueprint for a nightmare.”

One reason for Stalk’s ability to build affordable housing (their projects are built at $39/square foot) is the lack of subterranean parking in their design. Family Housing is also known for its expeditious labor; it recently built a triplex in Hollywood in 40 days.

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© 2022 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.