Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin introduced a series of recommendations Wednesday aimed at expanding the city’s affordable housing stock.
“Throughout this city, people are being squeezed out of their homes,” Bonin said. “People are moving out of Los Angeles entirely or moving far away and enduring grueling commutes to get to work. And more and more in Los Angeles, people who cannot afford housing are living on our streets, many of them are dying on our streets.”
Bonin introduced three motions, collectively billed as a “Homes Guarantee LA” plan. One of the motions would instruct the city to examine “social housing” used in European communities, with recommendations on how such a model could be employed in Los Angeles, with the housing owned and operated by the city.
“The markets alone and our system alone right now is not providing sufficient affordable housing for the people in Los Angeles. The demand is significantly greater than the supply,” Bonin said. “What social housing does is it would use public land or vacant land to provide a public option for affordable housing. It would have amenities near and within it, and would provide long-term tenancies and be green and sustainable.”
A second motion would seek ways to require limited liability companies to disclose their investors in residential real estate. Bonin said the requirement would could cut back on companies buying properties and keeping them vacant in hopes their value increases over time. The practice, called “speculative investment,” has been criticized by housing advocates who argue it reduces space for affordable housing.
The third motion would eliminate the city’s 3% floor increase on rent-stabilized units, and instead limit rent increases in such units to no more than 60% of the consumer price index.
According to Bonin’s motion, since 2009, the inflation rate fell into negative numbers and remained below 3% every year until 2018, averaging just 1.4% during that time — meaning some tenants have seen repeated rent increases in excess of the actual CPI.
Steve Diaz of the Los Angeles Community Action Network said housing advocates have worked for a decade to try to ensure financial balance between landlords and tenants through the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
“The 3% floor has created an unequal distribution of wealth between landlords and tenants and has been documented by numerous studies conducted by the city of Los Angeles,” Diaz said. “It is time that we invest in social housing, and it is time that we really deal with this crisis the way it’s supposed to be met, because housing is the answer to taking people off the street.”
Bonin also introduced a resolution that asks the city to support a federal bill, H.R. 5244, or the “Homes For All Act,” that would give cities greater control over laws to protect tenants from eviction and add $200 billion over 10 years to the Housing Trust Fund, which supports Housing and Urban Development projects.
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