March 30, 1993 - From the March, 1993 issue

L.A. Housing Policy: What Can Providers Expect?

Where is Los Angeles housing policy heading during the coming year? A recent report letter to Mayor Bradley from Housing Preservation and Production Department (HPPD) General Manager Gary Squier yields some insights into HPPD’s recent accomplishments and upcoming initiatives. As part of TPR’s continuing coverage of the local housing scene, we excerpt this self-assessment. 


"1993 may see changes in our housing development activities as we shift from new construction to take advantage of bank foreclosed deteriorated properties."

1992 Accomplishments 

In 1992, our Housing Production staff packaged 1,340 housing units in 21 developments. These projects leverage $36,500,000 in City funds to generate $138 million in private and public capital that will be invested in neglected inner-city neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. Beginning with groundbreakings this spring, 3,200 construction jobs will be created. We are proud to say that this year’s efforts will soon result in permanently affordable, quality housing for 5,500 low-income residents — the working poor, senior citizens and children will all benefit. 

1992 also saw the initiation of HPPD’s pilot “Impact Rehabilitation” program designed to bring the full weight of public and private resources to bear on deteriorating neighborhoods whose residents and business owners suffer the extremes of crime, violence and disinvestment. Beginning with a joint venture with LAPD on Blythe Street in Van Nuys, Impact Rehabilitation builds partnerships with residents, landlords, business owners, community organizers, social service providers and City agencies to make streets safe and housing livable… 

In addition to housing construction and neighborhood revitalization, the Housing Department has become an effective voice for decent housing and quality neighborhoods through policy reform in Los Angeles and in state and federal government. In 1992, the American Planning Association gave its Award of Merit to HPPD for our Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy (CHAS). The CHAS is a five year blueprint to address the Los Angeles housing crisis through a series of programs and reforms. In addition to public policy, in 1992 our planning staff shepherded in unprecedented resources from outside the City to address our low income housing needs. They include a $3.5 million Shelter Plus Care grant for transitional housing for the homeless, and $35 million through the federal HOME investment partnership. 

Perhaps most critically in a year of economic crisis and social turmoil, HPPD has directed resources to projects that generate inner-city employment to complement the economic development activity of other City departments and the private sector. The Department responded to last spring’s civil disturbances by setting in motion its “1,000 Jobs Initiative,” designed to employ 1,000 residents of neglected neighborhoods in housing rehabilitation and construction of homes for first-time home buyers on vacant inner-city lots. Jobs started to come online last fall, and will continue through next summer… 

Plans for 1993 

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HPPD has big plans for 1993. This will be a very bad year for slum lords as we initiate a new Slum busting Program that will bring the full weight of the City to relentlessly pursue land owners, property managers, and lenders whose business practices maliciously deprive low income tenants of a decent standard of living. Slum busting augments our successful Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP) and Rent Reduction Program with tenant organizing, foundation­to-roof Building and Safety inspections, lender notification, and ultimately criminal indictment of slum owners who refuse to improve their properties. Where REAP and Rent Reduction cleaned up 343 buildings last year, Slum busting should double that number. 

1993 may see changes in our housing development activities as we shift from new construction to take advantage of the growing number of bank foreclosed deteriorated properties. We also plan to expand both our homeownership activity in low income neighborhoods as well as the development of housing for persons with AIDS. The preservation or affordable housing previously assisted by the federal government will be another new program emphasis. We predict that financing for 7,000 low income units must be restructured in 1993 to avoid losing an important and endangered affordable housing resource. 

In 1993 we will continue our role as an economic stimulus in low income communities. Most of the 4,000 jobs generated by last year’s project starts will come on-line this year. Our next challenge is to target that employment to residents of Los Angeles and to link contractors with inner-city job training programs. 

Another important linkage is between affordable housing projects and supportive community institution and social services. To be successful, affordable housing must be more than just shelter, it must become a catalyst for community building. 1993 will see close coordination between HPPD and City-funded social service organizations as well as an expanded role for community-based housing development organizations. 

Important policy issues for 1993 include the expansion of housing opportunities near transit stations and the fortification of a weak housing market in the face of public demands for limits on growth… 

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