Homelessness and Affordable Housing

 

Homelessness and the lack of access to services and affordable housing is the most serious crisis facing the City. The City is the most unaffordable housing market in the country, and it is estimated that there are nearly 28,000 homeless people in the City. As the elected representative of the 13th District, Mitch committed from day one that he would work to combat homelessness using a three-pronged approach:

  • Protecting Tenants & Preserving Our Rent Stabilized Units

  • Working to Increase Our Supply of Covenanted Affordable Housing; and

  • Providing Access to Services and Permanent Supportive Housing.

HOUSING

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development defines “affordable housing” as housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a family’s gross income. Most Angelenos work hard everyday and yet many struggle to find access to affordable housing making it difficult to provide basic needs for them and their families. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is now ranked as the most unaffordable city in the country, with over 60% of tenants paying more than 30% of their household income for rent and over 30% of tenants severely rent-burdened, paying more than 50% of their income for rent.

Protecting Tenants & Preserving our Rent Stabilized Units

Mitch believes that one of our top priorities in the City must be to preserve our older housing stock and protect our existing tenants. In the City, most multi-family residential units constructed on or before October 1, 1978 are subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) which requires that the property be registered with the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) and caps annual rent increases - generally to about no more than 3% a year. The RSO is also intended to protect tenants from illegal evictions, provide additional time for tenants to find a new home, and requires relocation assistance.

Although RSO units are not covenanted “affordable” units (meaning they do not have a deed restriction that regulates rent), they do provide de facto affordable housing for many of our residents because the units are older, generally below market rate and subject to rent stabilization. These units provide a home to many long-term tenants, especially the elderly. Because of this, there is a very low vacancy rate (roughly 3%) and it can be extremely difficult to find an RSO unit if a tenant is evicted. This is a big problem because the difference between the rent for an RSO unit and newer units not subject to rent stabilization are vast. Another problem is that a tenant may not be able to pay for annual rent increases which are not regulated by the RSO.  

 

Although the Ellis Act is a provision in State law that allows landlords to legally take RSO units out of the rental market in certain circumstances and the City must comply with State law, Mitch believes that we need to do better at the local level to strengthen our law and protect tenants from bad-faith evictions and preserve our RSO stock. Since Mitch took office, here are a number of ways he has worked to address tenant displacement and preserve our RSO units.  

  • Supporting State Legislation to Strengthen Tenant’s Rights

  • Closing Relocation Assistance Loopholes

  • Request Analysis of Development Proposals on RSO Inventory

  • Denouncing projects that displace tenants

  • Tenant Buyout Notification Ordinance

Working to Increase Our Supply of Affordable Housing

While RSO units provide a more affordable type of housing option for our residents, “affordable” housing refers to housing with a specific rent restriction. Each year, the State publishes the median family income of a geographic region known as the “Area Median Income” (AMI). In 2016, the AMI for Los Angeles ranged between $62,400 - $64,800. A tenant whose income is 80% or less than the AMI is considered “low” income. A tenant whose income is 50% or less than the AMI is considered “very low” income and a tenant whose income is 30% or less than AMI is considered “extremely low” income.

When a property owner has received a land use concession from the City or is subject to a City ordinance or law that requires an affordable housing set-aside, the City requires the owner to record a covenant that restricts the rent level of the unit. The covenant obligates an owner to designate a specified number and type of dwelling units for occupancy by very low, low, or moderate income households, usually for a term of 30 - 55 years. Unlike RSO units, the percentage of income paid towards rent cannot change for the duration of the agreement even when an existing tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in.

Since Mitch took office, here are a number of ways he has worked to increase our covenanted affordable housing stock.

  • Value Capture/Measure JJJ

  • New Affordable Housing Units

  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund

  • Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District

  • Hollywood Community Plan Update (HCPU)

  • Public Private Partnerships

HOMELESSNESS

Providing Access to Services and Permanent Supportive Housing

Current estimates show that there are 28,000 homeless living in the City. This is the number one issue that Mitch and his team hear about. While this can be a polarizing issue, Mitch firmly believes that the City has an obligation to provide services and access to affordable, supportive housing. Below are a few highlights that show how Mitch is tackling this complicated issue around the district.

  • People Assisting the Homeless (PATH)

  • Community Partners