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Affordable Housing

Housing Action Just Half-a-Loaf per Governor Newsom

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Housing action just half-a-loaf

SACRAMENTO (CalMatters) — Gavin Newsom’s first legislative session as governor began with promises to vigorously confront California’s huge and ever-growing housing shortage.

“If we want a California for All, we have to build housing for all,” Newsom told legislators in his State of the State address in January, pledging to crack down on cities that don’t meet their quotas of zoning land for new housing and to reduce or eliminate red tape that discourages housing investment.

“In recent years, we’ve expedited judicial review on CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) for professional sports,” Newsom said. “It’s time we do the same thing for housing.”

The session ended last week with housing construction in decline and little or no action to overcome local footdragging and reform CEQA, but with passage of a statewide rent control law that, if anything, will retard housing development even more.

Newsom had called for “new rules to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent evictions, without putting small landlords out of business,” and the rent control bill may do that by limiting annual rent increases on units more than 15 years old to inflation plus 5%.

“These anti-gouging and eviction protections will help families afford to keep a roof over their heads, and they will provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis,” Newsom said in a statement.

The final, much-tweaked version of the bill divided real estate, development and landlord groups. Large-scale landlords accepted it as a potential antidote to a tougher rent control measure that may appear on the 2020 ballot, similar to one rejected by voters last year. But so-called “mom and pop” rental owners don’t like it.

Housing developers signed on because newer units are exempt from controls, but the California Association of Realtors remained fiercely opposed, apparently fearing that rent controls would dampen the resale market for rental housing.

The longer-term impacts of what’s being billed as the nation’s most comprehensive statewide effort to curb rapidly rising rents are uncertain.

Although the exemption for newer units purports to have a neutral effect on new housing investment, there’s little doubt that once the law takes effect, Newsom and legislators will be under pressure to expand its reach. And that possibility could have a dampening effect on investment.

Clearly it will make older apartment houses less marketable, and it could discourage their owners from spending money on improvements, particularly if they must borrow to do it. It may encourage more apartment owners to convert them into condos, and even if they retain units as rentals, they almost certainly will treat the inflation-plus-5% cap on rent increases as an annual imperative, regardless of the market.

While the legislation keeps one Newsom pledge on housing, as construction declines, he and lawmakers are not doing much to reverse the trend.

A fairly tough bill to overcome local not-in-my-backyard opposition to high-density rental housing was sidelined in the Senate under rather mysterious circumstances, but a weaker version did make it through.

The survivor, Senate Bill 330, purports to prevent local governments from taking extraordinary actions to delay or block housing projects, but it’s more a defensive move rather than one to proactively cut red tape or compel cities to accept more construction.

Bottom line: During his campaign for governor, Newsom set a goal of building 3.5 million new units of housing by 2025. Nothing that occurred in the Capitol this year would even begin to make that happen.

This article is produced as part of WeHo Daily’s partnership with CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

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Affordable Housing

Senior Tenant Sues Santa Monica Landlord to Stay in Her Home

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photo by Benjamin Massello

SANTA MONICA (Santa Monica Daily Press)– A 72-year-old woman with disabilities who has lived in the same Santa Monica studio for 38 years has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against her landlords.

In the suit filed Monday, St. James v. Bills, tenant Zandra St. James charges that her landlord violated state law by refusing to accept her housing choice voucher to offset her monthly rent. As a result, St. James faces eviction.

St. James’ apartment is rent-controlled, but with annual incremental increases. The rent has risen to the point that it now demands more than 90 percent of her monthly Social Security disability check.

She was awarded a housing choice voucher in 2019 and immediately sought to use the subsidy to help pay her […]

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Affordable Housing

Apply for Affordable Senior Housing at LGBT Center’s McCadden Campus

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LOS ANGELES — The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that applications for new affordable senior housing will be accepted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Services program for the forthcoming McCadden Campus senior housing site, which will offer 98 new, affordable, low-income units designed for people who are ages 62 and over.

The LGBT Center’s McCadden Campus senior housing is anticipated to be completed in fall 2020 and will feature studios and one-bedroom rentals.

There will be fully accessible units for people with mobility hearing, and/or vision disabilities. Future residents will be welcomed into the LA LGBT Center’s wide range of community programming specializing in HIV+ wellness, gender identity, and LGBT social and cultural support.

Other services will include meals, case management, employment training, and more.

The new senior housing site will be located adjacent to the Center’s Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Senior Center at the Anita May Rosenstein Campus on N. Las Palmas Avenue in Hollywood, just east of the City of West Hollywood, and is a project of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Thomas Safran & Associates.

The City of West Hollywood contributed $2.1 million to the project from the City’s local housing trust fund. Applications will be accepted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center until Wednesday, March 4.

There will be three opportunities for community members to submit applications in person in the City of West Hollywood:

  1. Monday, March 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard; and
  2. Wednesday, March 4 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard.

The City of West Hollywood has a decades-long commitment to providing social services, health education, and information to community members in-need and to improve quality of life. The City’s Social Services Division and Strategic Initiatives Division budget more than $5 million annually to support programs that impact thousands of people in West Hollywood through local nonprofit organizations.

The City’s Aging in Place/Aging in Community program was launched in 2016 to improve the quality of life and well-being of older adults in the City. For additional information, please visit weho.org/aging.

The City of West Hollywood’s Rent Stabilization & Housing Division promotes equity and inclusion through access to housing, and by working to change the underlying systems leading to and perpetuating disparities.

The Division provides a breadth of information and services to both tenants and property owners, including housing counseling and information materials. The City facilitates the development of new housing with an affordable component, the rehabilitation of existing housing for lasting affordability, and the development of mixed-use projects that include affordable housing units. For additional information, please visit weho.org/housing.

For more information about programs and services for seniors in the City of West Hollywood, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Social Services Division at (323) 848-6510 or visit www.weho.org/wehocares.

For more information about McCadden Campus senior housing, please contact the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Senior Services program by calling (323) 860-5830 or visit http://mccaddencampus.

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Affordable Housing

CA Lawmakers Say Limiting Development Fees Combats Housing Crisis

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Photo by Sacha T'Sas

SACRAMENTO (AP) — In their latest bid to combat California’s affordable housing crisis, state lawmakers on Monday announced a package of bills to limit development fees that can add tens of thousands of dollars to the price of a new home.

However, local governments depend heavily on the fees, which typically are used to pay for schools, roads and parks. Lawmakers said they were discussing those needs but have not yet decided how the fees might be replaced.

The fees are “vital to local government’s ability to pay for the infrastructure that residents living in new developments need,” Chris Lee, legislative representative for the California State Association of Counties said in a statement. He said counties are glad to […]

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