It’s a simple, effective concept to help solve our affordable housing crisis that L.A. and state politicians have long ignored: preserve, not demolish, existing affordable housing. Housing advocates have been making that case for years, and Dan Dayen wrote about it recently in an illuminating article at Capital & Main.
Last week, Governor Brown and Democratic leaders visited the Hunter’s View low-income development in San Francisco to sign a package of 15 bills designed to combat California’s affordable housing crisis. The package included a permanent revenue stream for affordable housing projects through a real estate document fee, a housing bond for the 2018 ballot, and “streamlined” development of multi-family structures through easing permitting requirements. Governor Brown signed all of them September 29.
Elected officials made housing affordability a priority in 2017 amid a growing recognition from academics and advocates that California has reached a point of crisis. The median home price in the Golden State is twice the national average, and average monthly rents also far outpace the rest of the country. Stories of four-hour commutes are as commonplace as stories of families leaving the state because of expensive housing. The lack of affordable units fuels inequality, sprawl, toxic emissions that overheat the planet, increased homelessness and what the Census Bureau recently targeted as the highest poverty rate in the nation.
“It’s the single biggest problem California faces,” University of California, Berkeley economics professor Ken Rosen told the Sacramento Bee.
But even supporters of the spate of legislation passed this year aren’t willing to say that it solves the problem. The funding isn’t big enough, and the costs of building remain too high. That’s why it’s puzzling that the bills, so focused on increasing construction of new housing, miss entirely the other side of the issue: the loss of existing housing. A great example of this neglect can be told through the story of the First Baptist Church of Venice.
Read the entire article at Capital & Main.
Above photo: Demolition of Hollywood apartment building with affordable units.