Six years ago, Los Angeles had $108 million to spend in its affordable housing trust fund. This year, that amount fell to about $26 million. The city housing department estimates that the difference in funding levels would subsidize more than 1,300 affordable units. The money helps offset costs so developers can offer cheaper rents.
Several things have contributed to the drop: Federal funding was slashed. Redevelopment agencies that poured property tax money into affordable housing were dissolved.
City Council members Mitch O’Farrell and Gil Cedillo want the city to draw on some of the tax money that previously went to redevelopment agencies to help build more affordable housing. Other California cities and counties are already doing so, including San Francisco and Los Angeles County.
– LA Times
U.S. Bank, Mercy Housing California, and New Directions have closed on a financing package that paves the way for El Monte Veterans Housing, a $12.8 million affordable housing development aimed at supporting returning veterans in Los Angeles County who might otherwise be homeless. Construction starts this month with completion expected in March 2014. El Monte Veterans Housing is located 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, and will offer 40 permanent supportive housing units for formerly homeless veterans. Los Angeles County has the highest population of homeless veterans in the United States, with more than 8,000 in need of supportive housing. A longtime partner of Mercy Housing, U.S. Bank is providing a more than $6.7 million construction loan and a nearly $8.8 million in LIHTC equity. New Directions, which has specialized in veteran affairs since 1992, will offer an array of services for residents including substance abuse treatment, counseling, remedial education, job training and placement, and parenting and money management classes.
Now that the powerful Community Redevelopment Agency is dead, Los Angeles is considering consolidating economic development efforts, using new money that flows to the city post-redevelopment.
A consulting team has proposed a whole new post-redevelopment economic development structure for Los Angeles.
Unsurprisingly, the recently released report by HR&A — commissioned by L.A.’s chief administrative officer and chief legislative analyst — calls for the creation of a consolidated Economic Development Department. But if the proposal is adopted by the city, it would represent revolutionary change for a city that has long been characterized by a large, sluggish bureaucracy that has difficulty being nimble enough to compete on economic development.
Perhaps most interesting is how HR&A proposes to fund the new operation: With the money the city now receives in its general fund because redevelopment was killed. One oft-overlooked point about the end of redevelopment is that it created a “windfall,” if one might call it that, for city general funds. Redevelopment agencies typically received somewhere between 60% and 100% of property tax increment from inside redevelopment project areas. Now that the money is distributed to taxing agencies just like all other property tax money, cities are getting about 15% of it into their general funds.
– California Planning & Development Report
California Community Foundation (CCF) announced 27 new grants totaling $2,315,000 to nonprofits throughout Greater Los Angeles based on sound planning, strong leadership and effective management, impact of programs or services, and other demonstrated qualities in affordable housing, arts, education, health care, and civic engagement. The foundation’s first investment of discretionary charitable dollars in the new year follows a distribution of 25 grants and loans totaling $2,680,000 in the fall. Since the fiscal year began on July 1, 2012, nearly $5 million has been distributed by CCF, primarily in two-year grants, to 52 nonprofit organizations working in areas of highest importance in the Los Angeles region to the community foundation. CCF has been serving Los Angeles communities since 1915. It encourages philanthropy by individuals, families, companies and organizations, and serves as a steward of their charitable funds and legacies.
A public orchard, planted by and entrusted to the community, debuts at Del Aire Park. County officials hope the ‘edible art’ will encourage more locals to spend time there. Residents of this quiet, unincorporated slice of Los Angeles County had helped plant 27 fruit trees and eight grapevines in Del Aire Park and 60 additional fruit trees in the surrounding neighborhood. It was part of a larger renovation that included face lifts for a community center, basketball court and baseball field, all nestled in a green space just southwest of the juncture of the 105 and 405 freeways. The county paid $4 million for the improvements — and used a little creative financing. The fruit trees were paid for from funds designated for civic art. The purpose was to blend food and aesthetics into “edible art,” Ridley-Thomas said.
– LA Times