Los Angeles Bond Addresses Housing Affordability Crisis
Los Angeles can become a national model for providing quality housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income families, according to leaders of the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP and the Building Industry Association of Greater Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter. Both organizations have endorsed Prop H on the Nov. 7 ballot, which would provide bond financing for affordable housing.
The two organizations co-hosted a town-hall meeting at Los Angeles’ Holman United Methodist Church last week to discuss the state of housing in the city and to envision how the city might use the $1 billion for housing if the proposition passes.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that Los Angeles has the nation’s most serious housing crisis,” said Brian Catalde, NAHB’s president-elect and a builder in the Los Angeles area. “Proposition H has the potential to enable homeownership, promote construction of affordable rental housing and support housing for the homeless on an unprecedented scale. It would also create jobs, encourage additional investment in the city and enlarge the tax base.”
“Housing and homeownership are important issues for families and communities,” said Raphael Bostic, a University of Southern California economics professor who outlined the severe housing affordability problem in Los Angeles. “The home is important for families in terms of building wealth. It’s also important in providing a sense of self direction and self control.”
Hundreds of thousands of families in Los Angeles are struggling to find housing that meets their needs at a price they can afford. The statistics are telling:
- Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the nation. There are roughly 48,000 homeless individuals in the city on any given night.
- Less than 2% of the homes sold in Los Angeles during the second quarter of 2006 were affordable to median-income earners.
- Nearly two-thirds of L.A. renters can’t afford fair market rent ($1,189 a month for a two-bedroom apartment).
“There is no other city, no other state, that has tried a solution like Prop H,” Catalde said. “If Los Angeles can do this, then I can go to Florida, New York and other places that have housing affordability problems, and say ‘look what we have done in California.’ This measure starts with transition housing. Then it moves to rental housing and finally to homeownership. It’s a three-part program to address housing affordability.”
The town hall meeting builds on a partnership of the NAACP and NAHB. The two national organizations recently released a joint housing report entitled, “Building on a Dream,” that provides a comprehensive view of the state of minority housing opportunity, identifies the barriers to affordable housing and suggests nine policy recommendations to expand housing opportunities.
“Just like you, the NAACP and NAHB are deeply committed to housing affordability issues,” said Christine Bischoff, NAACP’s national economic empowerment policy manager. “We plan to conduct several joint town hall meetings in order to encourage discussion, foster cooperation and work together to find solutions to housing problems of real people.”
Matt Breiner, president of the BIA of Los Angeles/Ventura, noted that Prop H has been endorsed by a broad coalition of diverse organizations. Groups and individuals endorsing the bond measure include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; former mayors James Hahn and Richard Riordan; former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros; and organizations such as the ACLU, ACORN, Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and the African American Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s time to break ground on a new era of housing opportunity for Los Angeles, and Prop H is the tool that can make that happen,” Catalde said. “I’m excited about the partnership between the home builders and the NAACP, I’m excited about the many things we can achieve when Proposition H is passed, and I’m excited about the prospect of a better, more affordable Los Angeles.”
For more information, e-mail Blake Smith at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8583.