L.A. City Council Votes to Explore Different Methods of Social Housing

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council voted today to consider creating a social housing program, a way to acquire residences for the public and pay for them in part by collecting rent on the properties.

Council members said taking that path could help keep people housed and get homeless residents indoors as soon as possible.

“One of the reasons this differs so much from the U.S.'s relatively failed experiment in public housing is it's done right,'' said Councilman Mike Bonin, who authored the proposal. “(It's) a different mix of income, so that the public has more buy-in success. There is a real sense of ownership among people who live there. It is done generally with public amenities in mind, close to shopping and parks and public transit.''

The council voted to have staff prepare a report on ways to implement a program that would be similar to social housing used in European communities, Singapore and elsewhere, and how those models could be applied to Los Angeles.

That housing model would be different from Proposition HHH-funded housing, in which money is loaned to developers in the form of bonds, or other housing bonds used for permanent supportive housing.

The methods described by Bonin would be for housing owned by the city with rents set to economic conditions.

The motion also directs staff to find out how many units of public housing are available in each council district, as Bonin said the council is limited to 3,500 per district.

“Housing instability has no has no borders,'' Councilman Joe Buscaino said. “We've got to look at models around the world, models that work.''

Buscaino said the housing development of mixed-income residents at Harbor Village Apartments in Harbor City is one example of social housing that could be applied elsewhere in Los Angeles.

Councilman Gil Cedillo said council members need to keep in mind when looking at social housing projects that there are about 10,000 units in Los Angeles that have rent covenants that are nearing expiration, and any social housing system should ensure they don't expire on renters.

Council members said they also want to look at giving people ownership of their residences.

City staff were directed to come back with a report on funding sources, including tax-based revenue, the creation of a public banking system and ways to recoup costs of construction through rent collection.

Photo: Getty Images

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