Housing Construction Skyline

The “Housing Advocate” is a bi-weekly collection of news stories and content related to the housing crisis here in Los Angeles. If you missed last week’s post, it can be found here

Welcome to Abundant Housing’s “The Housing Advocate!” These are some key stories that the AHLA Community has found relevant to the conversation among housing advocates at the moment. Here are the stories we found important this week:

1) Abundant Housing’s Housing Agenda

This week, Abundant Housing released its policy agenda for Los Angeles County to become a region that has housing for all. The policy agenda centers on 5 main key ideas we believe are necessary to address the housing crisis:

  1. Make ‘more room’ for homes by planning and zoning for more homes
  2. Make it easier, cheaper, and faster to build homes which will encourage more building
  3. Raise money for affordable homes through creating new dedicated funding sources
  4. Protect tenants through expanding and enforcing renter’s rights
  5. Encourage innovation in the design, planning, and construction of new homes

We believe this policy platform can serve as a roadmap towards more housing that is affordable to all in our region, and we look forward to building support and receiving constructive engagement with it soon!

2) Update on the RHNA Process

We have been celebrating here at Abundant Housing when a few weeks back it was announced that Southern California was required to build 1.3 million homes. Amid a housing crisis, it is encouraging to see the region held to an ambitious standard, that will do a lot towards ensuring housing affordability. Through the process, we have been tracking: who has demonstrated through the process that they care about solving the crisis? And who has been a bad actor? One of our latest blog posts tries to do just that (hint: mayors of locals cities make it onto both lists)

Of course, this week it became clear that the process (and the fight over trying to fix this crisis) is not done. While creating an ambitious target was the first part of the battle, where those houses are allocated is the second half of the battle. SCAG is trying to move forward with an allocation methodology that would put that new the majority of new housing in cities like Riverside, Coachella, and Victorville. This is a grave mistake economically, given that these areas are not where jobs are growing, and environmentally, as these areas cannot access mass transit. We don’t think this methodology aligns with the intention of state law and will continue to advocate for a better methodology, like those proposed by our member Anthony Dedousis

3) Housing on the Federal Level

For years, housing in the United States has been seen exclusively as a local issue, to be sorted out by local governments. But the extent of the housing crisis in many of American largest and most prosperous cities has brought the issue onto the national radar. Unlike previous presidential elections, 2020 has many of the major candidates roll out detailed housing plans. While we don’t endorse any specific presidential candidate, we are very encouraged by how many candidates are thinking critically about housing.

We are also encouraged to see two pieces of legislation introduced that we believe can help alleviate the crisis in our city and many others:

  • The YIMBY Act requires Community Development Block Grant recipients to go on the record explaining how they are implementing pro-affordability and anti-discriminatory housing policies. 
  • The Build More Housing Near Transit Act requires transit authorities pursuing federal transit funding to evaluate the feasibility of new housing near stations and secure a policy commitment from local governments to support both affordable and market-rate housing.

We encourage folks to write in their support for both acts, and for more legislators to create ideas to address the issue!

4) National Attention on Homelessness in LA

In the wake of President Trump’s recent visit, there has been renewed attention on the issue of homeless in Los Angeles. While we think the President’s ideas are counter-productive to solving the crisis, we are glad that the issue is getting the national attention it deserves. Many are now pushing Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency to try to address the crisis.

We were disturbed to listen to a recent KCRW segment that illustrated the threats that many homeless individuals in our city are receiving from their fellow citizens, including harassment, physical violence, and even vigilante justice. This is a shameful way to respond to a crisis that experts agree is being driven by our housing crisis. It is especially that many interviewed in the segment who are committing the most aggressive acts against the homeless are homeowners in the very exclusive neighborhoods that drive the housing that drives the housing crisis.

That’s all for this week. Come back in two weeks for another update!