Councilman Gil Cedillo introduced a motion Tuesday to have Los Angeles departments allocate more than $45 million in coronavirus relief funds to acquire the Hillside Villa Apartments, a residential complex where tenants have seen substantial rent increases.

“The adverse impact of COVID-19 on the city’s housing and homelessness crisis is unprecedented, with hundreds of thousands of residents facing evictions and homelessness due to job loss and unemployment,” Cedillo said. “I am introducing this motion to preserve the affordable housing at Hillside Villa Apartments and keep the tenants from being forced out.”

The Hillside Villa Apartments is a 124-unit affordable housing development, located in the Chinatown neighborhood at 636 N. Hill Place. 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.

Tenants were paying around $900 to $1,200 a month but are now looking at rent increases of up to $3,200 a month. Numerous families and senior citizens will be vulnerable to market-rate rent increase, Cedillo said.

The Housing and Community Investment Department previously reviewed the potential to acquire the Hillside Villa Apartments by eminent domain with the goal of preserving housing for public use.

In September 2020, the Department of General Services commissioned an appraisal of the property that established a hypothetical market value leased fee at $45,695,000, according to Cedillo.

It was not immediately clear which City Council committee would hear the motion, but it will likely be heard by the council’s Housing Committee, which Cedillo chairs.

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