The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to support state legislation that would impose a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding home sales, to fund affordable housing and home ownership programs.
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended backing AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, saying Los Angeles County needs nearly a half-million more affordable homes for low-income families.
Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe cast the dissenting votes.
About one million working households in the county — headed by nursing assistants, security guards, janitors, cooks and retail salespeople, among others — earn less than 50 percent of the area median income and are forced to choose between paying rent or buying food, according to the supervisors’ motion.
Kuehl and Ridley-Thomas cited statistics showing that in the last 15 years, median household rent in Los Angeles has increased 25 percent, while median household income adjusted for inflation has decreased 9 percent.
“This trajectory is unsustainable,” the motion reads.
The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for passage.
The board’s vote comes one day after housing advocates announced that the homeless population in the county has increased 12 percent since 2013.
“The only answer is housing. We know ‘Housing First’ works,” Tod Lipka, CEO of Step Up on Second, told the board.
Step Up on Second provides permanent supportive housing for veterans and individuals with mental health problems.
Despite a federal and local push to house all homeless veterans by the end of this year, the detailed count also found that the population of veterans on the street has remained roughly flat since 2013.
“No growth in veteran homelessness demonstrates the positive impact of increased federal and local resources to house homeless veterans, but shows a serious challenge of new veterans becoming homeless,” Peter Lynn, executive director of the los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said of the count.
“Los Angeles has housed 7,500 veterans since 2013, but we will need to increase that rate to end veteran homelessness,” he said.
The issue of homelessness has also been thrust into the forefront by a pair of fatal police shootings of homeless men in Los Angeles — May 5 in the Venice area and on March 1 on downtown’s Skid Row.
Housing advocates told the board that the dissolution of state redevelopment agencies has created a funding crisis. However, Knabe and Antonovich said they’d like to find a different way to pay for new housing.
“We all support affordable housing,” Knabe said, “but I think we need to look at some other opportunities, so I’ll be casting a no vote.”
— City News Service
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