Practical Solutions for Affordable Housing in Long Beach:
- Pass The COVID-19 Rent Forgiveness and Housing Security Act
- Set aside at least $20 million per year in the budget for government-financed affordable housing
- Close Inclusionary Housing loopholes for multi-billion dollar development companies
- Protect low and moderate income tenants from developer gentrification and predatory Land Use Plans
- Deprioritize the construction of unaffordable luxury condos
- Build duplexes, container homes and tiny homes to encourage affordable home ownership
It’s time to get serious about developing Affordable Housing. The first thing we must do is tell the truth. They Mayor has just stated that we built 4000 new affordable and working-class homes across the City. That was an absolute LIE.
According to Christopher Koontz in our Development Department NO affordable housing was created during the latest development spree. The City gave “streamlined incentives” to encourage developers to “set aside” 10% of their buildings for low income and moderate income housing, but not one developer built any of those “so called working class “ units. We obviously cannot trust our leadership anymore. No lie can assist us out of this mess.
We know now that we cannot expect Developers to create low income housing. They are in the business for a profit, and Lord knows they make a killing in Long Beach thanks to all the donations and the amounts they have given to our elected officials. If we really want low income housing, this must be a government funded project. Instead of almost giving away the land we inherited from the Redevelopment Agency, it would have been so much nicer and smarter if we bought them ourselves for affordable housing. Nonetheless, we need to accumulate parcels and start designing neighborhood friendly and people-friendly affordable housing. We also need to stop using the contractors who have been ripping us off — $53 million with only a few affordable units to show for it. $541,000.00 per 1 bedroom unit is their cost. We cannot afford to build at those inflated prices. The cost we have been paying for projects is unnatural and so inflated that no one can look at the cost sheets without immediately coming to the conclusion that some sort of corruption was at play.
We need to get the best bang for our buck in affordable housing since we need a lot. Wasting money on political allies just won’t cut it. We need to do a really cost comparison of contractors and developers with serious oversight and complete transparency. Only then will we be assured that the kind of housing we
desperately need is being built. Affordable housing is not just for low income residents, but it is also essential to transitional and continuum of care housing for homeless people. I know our people want to solve this problem, so it is high time the City conquers the issue, sets aside politics, privilege and benefits, and get down to basics. Set aside as much money as we can (20 million or more) in each year’s budget as a first priority until we have the housing we need.
We are entering a severe recession. The need for affordable housing will only increase, and we must be ready to serve our people. How can we afford to make this set-aside in the budget? Well there are several methods, but the most obvious is to slash salaries for every single City Hall Manager making $100,000.00 and above. That would save us millions. ( In this recession, I doubt anyone would quit, as there are no jobs elsewhere.) We don’t need 8 middle managers, so we had better look at our staffing which has exploded to over 6000 people and start culling the herd. We have done this before in the 1992 recession and we know how to do this now. That is the purpose of having institutional memory. I don’t need to re-invent the wheel, as I have participated in the methods and systems that saved this City from Bankruptcy before. Our mantra must be Prioritize, Prioritize and Prioritize with this mission in mind, To serve the people not City Hall.
I wrote the Affordable Housing Prospectus for the City of Long Beach and 32 out of 33 of my points were adopted by the City. From tiny homes, to container homes, from smaller scale housing projects to Duplex housing projects, we have a number of methods to more forward. Carte.com has a program where they deliver a built out Container for $45,000.00 and a double for $75.000. That eliminates building permit hassles as they are already State Certified. Now we only need to identify the parcels of land. ( Currently the City is penalizing vacant land owner to the tune of $464.00 per quarter.) Why not purchase the land and build these needed communities, or at least turn them into community gardens and waive the fees.
I can assure you the City will try to raise your parking tickets, your tow fees, your ambulance costs, and almost every other fine they throw at citizens to balance their budget. What we need to tell them is to orient themselves to assisting our residents to survive this recession, and do some serious introspection and remove the excess positions and the outrageous salaries from City Hall. Then we can get serious about solutions for affordable housing.