February 28, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LA City Council Backs Initiative to Safeguard Affordable Housing for Low-Income Renters

Council Votes 13-0 to Preserve Affordable Properties

By Keemia Zhang

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted 13-0 to endorse efforts aimed at preserving affordable properties and preventing the displacement of low-income renters.

As reported by City News Service via KNX News, council members directed staff to formulate a spending plan to expand the preservation program, which aims to prevent apartments from losing affordability restrictions due to insufficient funding. 

A total of 193 properties, comprising 5,929 housing units, face the risk of losing affordability by December 2027. Among these, 23 properties with 460 units were identified as “at-risk, high-priority,” indicating a lack of rent control or internal renewal programs to maintain ongoing affordability. The city estimates that reinforcing these programs for high-risk properties would incur a cost of nearly $166 million, according to a report from the Housing Department.

The preservation initiative involves a dual approach to address the financial affordability of units. Firstly, by covering the difference between the historical rent at the time of the affordability contract and today’s market rent, and secondly, by renovating units to enhance accessibility, address deferred maintenance, and modernize living spaces. The impact of these upgrades on preserving affordability remains unclear. 

For properties with a lower risk of affecting residents, in-house measures might aid in protecting tenants from expiration, according to KNX News. Some of these properties receive operational funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, while buildings involved in other programs, such as the PB-Section 8 rental assistance program for the elderly and disabled, have built-in renewal options.

Funding for the program would come from various sources, including the federal HOME program, the state Permanent Local Housing Allocation (Senate Bill 2), Linkage Fee Funds, and United to House L.A. Officials express caution regarding state and federal funding due to specific binding purposes typically associated with allocations, such as HOME funds designated for new affordable units through the Affordable Housing Managed Pipeline.

California’s Affordable Housing Preservation Notice Law mandates property owners intending to exit affordability programs to provide advance notice to affected residents and file paperwork with the local government, including covenants, regulatory agreements, and subsidy contracts.

City Councilmembers Curren Price and Kevin de León were marked as absent from the vote.

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