Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing":
Estimates for 2015 released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority put Los Angeles County’s homeless population at 44,359 individuals, with 17,687 of the 25,686 homeless residents of the City of Los Angeles being completely unsheltered. On April 20, in what is being referred to as a call to arms across the city, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he had appropriated $138 million in funding aimed at addressing some of the needs of this vulnerable and marginalized population. A portion of the new funds—$86 million—is earmarked for the development of permanent affordable housing.
Though the sum is vast, there are serious concerns regarding the viability of the proposal’s funding sources. Garcetti’s budget calls for the majority of the funds to be raised from linkage fees paid by developers, a set of fees that are not currently collected by the city. Should the L.A. City Council approve the mayor’s budget, it will have to instate new linkage fees as well. Simultaneously, homeless-relief advocates consider the $138 million sum a pittance of what is needed to seriously address the area’s entrenched homelessness issues, with many calling for a November ballot initiative to establish a permanent fund for the cause. Additionally in this election year, homelessness is being seen more widely as a phenomenon directly related to what some see as a rise in income inequality and endemic wage stagnation.
Amid this context, the impact of this new funding for affordable and supportive housing could be vast. The City of L.A. is planning to use the sale or redevelopment of several surplus properties it holds to fund some of the construction of new affordable housing. L.A.’s Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), a nonprofit established in 1989 to build permanent affordable housing for low-income Angelenos, will likely be one of the organizations to lead the efforts in increasing the city’s affordable-housing stock. And, with recently completed projects by high-caliber area firms like Michael Maltzan Architecture, Brooks + Scarpa Architects, and Killefer Flammang Architects, SRHT is poised to lead the campaign to win the hearts, minds, and pockets of the city’s many powerful, moneyed interests resistant to homeless housing in their neighborhoods. Regarding the recently completed Brooks + Scarpa SIX project, SRHT CEO Mike Alvidrez remarked, “We’ve tried to showcase the architect’s talents. Good design is an integral part of all the work that we do.” He went on to say, “The city, county, and state have always made dollars available for affordable housing, but at too small a scale. [SRHT’s projects have shown that] high-quality affordable housing can be attractive and be seen as a valuable aesthetic contribution to the communities in which they are developed. Hopefully [good design] will assuage some of the concerns people have; there’s no reason well-designed buildings and housing for homeless people across L.A. can’t coexist.”
After AN contributor Peter Zellner wrote a blistering critique of L.A.’s response to the homelessness crisis, the city’s American Institute of Architects chapter got involved by convening a congress aimed at bringing together designers, affordable-housing leaders, and politicians around homelessness issues. Adding to his critique, Zellner said, “Architects and designers have to become more involved politically in order to raise awareness. It would be incumbent upon architects to think of forms of urbanism that integrate approaches for housing the homeless and articulate a viable alternate vision [for L.A.’s future] that is dense, vertical, and integrated. [We can] lead through design.”
The congress, called Design for Dignity, took place on May 6 and featured panel discussions and lectures from advocates working across the city, from the streets of Skid Row to the corridors of City Hall. Regarding the role design can play in addressing the homelessness crisis, congress participant, architect, and homeless-relief advocate Michael Lehrer said, “We have to create places that are nurturing and safe—that’s important. It’s also critical the response provides a range of types of inhabitation. Some of these informal communities are old and have deep social structures: How do you provide a wholesome existence and place and still provide space for individuals who are not fully interested in being a part of the social armature?”
With the state of California recently announcing a $2 billion plan to fund affordable housing for mentally ill citizens living on the streets statewide and the county of Los Angeles soon to put forth a plan of its own, one wonders if these efforts might finally begin to reverse the fortunes of tens of thousands of Los Angeles’s residents.
New York State: "There may be no new towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6, sorry." New York City: “We’re building them anyway.”
State officials announced this week that, due to investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio's alleged pay-to-play deals with developers, the two residential towers (which included a preschool and affordable housing) planned for the waterside park will not likely be moving forward. If the city has its way, though, the towers will move ahead.
Empire State Development, New York State's primary economic development agency, withdrew support for the agreement, citing potential issues with the developers of the apartment building. State officials noted that the lead developer, RAL Development Services, made a $10,000 contribution in May 2015 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that supports the mayor's initiatives, like universal pre-K. RAL and co-developer Oliver’s Realty Group were selected from 14 proposals submitted to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the nonprofit responsible for operating the park, at the end of last June.
Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for Empire State Development, said: “We will not move forward with any changes until we are fully confident that all newly raised concerns have been addressed,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
The city was surprised—stunned, even—by the state's about-face, calling the reasons for the reversal "completely specious."
As early as late last week, state and city officials had reached an agreement for the space adjacent to the East River, despite an undercurrent of community opposition. It is possible that the deal can be salvaged if the community's concerns around additional development in the park, and the main developer issue, can be resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.
Judi Francis, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, told WSJ that she hoped New York State would “'do the right thing' and reject the proposed changes 'and all housing on Pier 6.'”
Just hours later, however, The New York Times reported that the city intends to move ahead with the towers. “We’re going forward anyway,” said Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, to the Times on Tuesday. “We stand by the rationale for the project. It puts the park in a better position to address its maritime and capital needs. And we have an obligation to build affordable housing, particularly in these expensive and rapidly changing neighborhoods.” Glen is also chairwoman of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation.
The park is supposed to self-finance with development like the proposed towers: A 12-story building with 188 apartments (131 affordable) and a 26-story market-rate structure with of 116 condos, designed by ODA. The developer will pay the city $98 million, plus a small annual rent, for the privilege of building on the property.
Councilman Stephen Levin and State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, two of the district's representatives, note that to build on Pier 6, the city still needs state approval for the amendment to the project plan.