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L.A. mayor unveils new housing program

September 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to make it easier for low- and moderate-income families to find housing. Monday he announced the city and others will pool millions of dollars to build or preserve 20,000 homes.In this unstable housing market, a large metropolitan city such as Los Angeles is particularly hard hit. City-generated statistics show only 11 percent of L.A. residents can afford to buy a medium-priced home.

"Too many middle-class families can't afford to live in Los Angeles," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Monday. "And the housing we produce does not match the housing we need."

Mayor Villaraigosa rolled out a five-year, $5-billion plan he says will reverse that trend. The so-called "Housing That Works Initiative" calls for 20,000 housing units for L.A.'s working families.

There's already support from City Councilmember Jose Huizar. "For too long, Angelenos in Southern Califronia -- their version of an American Dream has actually turned into a nightmare."

One mixed-use apartment complex on the 3100 block of Wilshire Boulevard is where the mayor unveiled his plan. The building is a prime example: 20 percent of the units are slated for low-income families.

"Housing That Works will create 20 sustainable transit communities like this one, focusing new development in the areas where it makes the most sense," said the mayor.

To make it work, all five housing and planning departments are working under one roof toward this goal.

One billion dollars will come from already-existing public funds and there is a $700-million investment from an affordable-housing non-profit organization. The rest will come from private sources. The plan will also include 2,200 housing units for L.A.'s homeless, like Suzanne Kite.

"My motto now is, 'From where I'm lying, the curb looks like a high-rise,'" said Kite.

The plan is expected to come before the L.A. City Council on Wednesday.


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