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LA City Council to explore expanding affordable housing acquisition program


The Los Angeles City Council voted today to have the city take steps to expand its program of purchasing affordable housing buildings to prevent rent increases and keep low-income individuals and families housed throughout the city.

The motion passed with 14 yes votes and one council member absent.

“By purchasing naturally affordable housing, the city can remove units from the speculative market, help insulate tenants from price increases and create housing for low-income families,” stated the motion, which was introduced by Council President Nury Martinez. “This is also an incredibly cost effective solution.”

The motion noted that the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles acquired more than 1,000 units through its acquisition program in 2020 with an average cost per unit of $231,690, which is half the price of building new units through programs like Proposition HHH.

Tuesday’s vote requested that HACLA and the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department create a strategy to expand the program to at least 1,500 units by 2022, 5,000 units by 2025 and 10,000 units by 2030. The strategy will include ways to fund the expansion.

HACLA and HCIDLA were also ordered to create a strategy to identify and reach out to potential equity partners — including financial institutions, foundations and businesses — to support the program.

The vote comes a week after the City Council approved a motion to explore funding options to purchases a long-sought Chinatown residential complex for low-income families for more than $45 million.

Tenants at the Hillside Villa Apartments, located at 636 N. Hill Place, were paying $900 to $1,200 a month but are looking at rent increases of up to $3,200 a month. The apartments were constructed with loan assistance from the then-Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles. In exchange for the loans of about $5.5 million, a 30-year affordable housing covenant was negotiated with the property owner. That agreement expired in August 2020.

Councilman Gil Cedillo has said there may be 10,000 units in Los Angeles that are under similar affordability covenants that could expire in the next five to 10 years.