Why We Need Abundant Housingpost by leonoraahla · 2021-04-29T07:45:53.607Z · EA · GW · 3 comments
What AHLA does The need Why Abundant Housing Our accomplishments Our goals Scale and impact Our ask FAQ I don’t like cities, so why should I support density? Why don’t you take money from real estate developers? I thought real estate was an investment. Why would I want it to get cheaper? I don’t live in LA. Why should I be interested in your work? None 3 comments
What AHLA does
Abundant Housing LA is broadening public engagement in housing policy to achieve solutions at scale.
We combine policy analysis with local organizing to identify opportunities for upstream solutions to the housing crisis and ensure
Abundant Housing LA is LA’s loudest pro-housing voice. We are working to ensure that all 88 cities within Los Angeles County have a voice in local growth and identify strategies to add housing in a way that will promote social equity, quality of life, and sustainable economic growth.
Like many metropolitan areas around the US, Los Angeles County is experiencing a housing and homelessness crisis.
Even with thousands of affordable and permanent supportive housing units in the pipeline, rental costs have been outpacing wage growth and housing insecurity is on the rise. As recognized in the 2019 homeless count, increasing numbers of people are becoming newly homeless due to rising housing costs. To meet the need, the County of Los Angeles needs 516k additional units of affordable housing to meet the housing needs of low-income renters.
Los Angeles—and indeed all of California—need solutions far upstream; individual developments are necessary and worthwhile efforts, but the housing crisis must be solved holistically and decisively.
Why Abundant Housing
Abundant Housing LA believes that affordable housing must be achieved through system-level policy reforms that clear regulatory barriers to affordable housing production.
Produce scalable templates for housing elements that can be easily replicated for smaller cities
Abundant Housing LA has laid the groundwork to make an impact at scale. We have mobilized 10 local chapters around the County.
Abundant Housing has put forth a recommendation to allocate housing to high-opportunity neighborhoods, and to neighborhoods with good access to transit and jobs. We support this approach because:
- Many high-opportunity neighborhoods have historically avoided adding new housing through exclusionary zoning. This drives up the cost of housing in these areas, and limits them to residents with high incomes. Ending exclusionary zoning by adding housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods will reduce segregation, provide residents with more housing options, and reduce displacement as expensive areas satisfy more of the city’s total demand for housing.
- Adding housing in highly desirable neighborhoods will lower rents throughout Los Angeles. This means that residents will have more disposable income, which is good for Los Angeles residents and the local economy.
- More homes near jobs and transit means that more Angelenos can get to work without driving long distances. This means greater economic opportunity, shorter commutes, less traffic, and lower carbon emissions. Denser infill housing near jobs and transit also shifts development away from environmentally-sensitive areas, which helps preserve green space.
Scale and impact
Abundant Housing LA is targeting the statewide Regional Housing Needs Assessment Process (RHNA) and its implementation on the local level, the Housing Element Update, as key vehicles to transform our approach to housing development.
The state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for L.A. County of 813,000 total homes (472,000 Affordable) was based on calculations of what will get L.A. County to rent burden rates matching those of the U.S. as a whole. (24.7% of people spending more than half of their income on rent).
AHLA’s analysis also predicts that if the cost of rent for the lowest-income households in Los Angeles (i.e. those at the 10th percentile of income) were to decrease to 30% of household income over the course of five years—assuming that the housing market absorbed low-income households without frictions—the number of homeless residents of Los Angeles County would fall by more than 20,000 people.
I don’t like cities, so why should I support density?
Density makes communities more affordable, livable, diverse, and sustainable, and supports a stronger economy. But density doesn’t have to look like skyscrapers and highrises. In fact, “missing middle” medium density, like townhomes and four-plexes, provide space for a large amount of housing capacity. Allowing more of these types of buildings in single family areas creates enormous benefits and helps address major long-term problems.
Primarily, more supply helps prevent souring housing costs. Cities that allow lots of new housing have lower housing costs than places with highly restrictive zoning. By modernizing their approaches to housing development regulation, states and localities can restrain unchecked housing cost growth, protect homeowners, and strengthen their economies.
Socially, more multifamily housing increases diversity and leads to better schools and environments for children. And environmentally, dense housing is more energy efficient, makes communities’ ecological footprint smaller, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from car commutes.
Why don’t you take money from real estate developers?
Abundant Housing LA seeks to maintain independence from real estate developers. Since we advocate for housing projects, we choose not to take money from real estate developers in order to prevent a conflict of interest in our advocacy process. Furthermore, our policies do not always align with those of developers, especially in the case of development in greenfield environmental space.
I thought real estate was an investment. Why would I want it to get cheaper?
Soaring housing costs may be a good investment for some, but overall, they are economically destructive. Businesses lose customers and employees as people leave unaffordable areas. More housing, however, builds a better economy. If we drove rents down, and people started moving to where the best jobs are, the US economy would grow by $1-2 trillion a year. On top of that, more housing reduces car usage and dependence, and it means more walking and biking. Walkable neighborhoods are good for you and can prevent obesity and lower rates of heart disease. Long commutes, on the other hand, are slowly killing you.
I don’t live in LA. Why should I be interested in your work?
Housing policy is fundamentally a local issue, since it is local jurisdictions that decide where and how to allow housing. Achieving housing abundance on a larger scale requires problem-solving on the local level. Abundant Housing LA is doing the work to create solutions and build a model for housing abundance everywhere.
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