Angelenos need to make at least $87,000 a year to afford a one-bedroom apartment, while the average person living in Los Angeles makes only $35,000 a year. It’s undeniable that the  City of LA has a severe shortage of housing units, requiring 480,000 affordable units to fill the deficit. 

To ensure that housing is a human right, we must build quality public housing. One unit of housing currently costs around $550,000, which is attributed to land costs, developers, architecture, construction, and structural costs. Some ideas that we have to trim these costs is potentially relying on a public or government developer, thereby removing any profit motive and instead focus on building more housing.

Currently, most housing being built is a mixture of market rate apartments and low-income housing. Most of the housing being built is 90% market rate and 10% extremely low-income, which leaves very scarce options for residents in need of affordable housing.

In addition, current affordable housing that exists and being built have temporary affordable housing covenants (30 years / 55 years), which means that once the covenant expires, the landlord can raise the rents of families who used to pay low rent (e.g. $800 a month) to market rate rent (e.g. $2,000 a month).

As City Controller, we would provide information to elected officials that enables them to make more informed policy decisions. This information would also aid activists in fighting for more equitable housing policies. 

Our campaign is already doing the work of the City Controller by providing an interactive map for users to browse all apartments in Los Angeles with affordable housing covenants granted from 2010-May 2021. This tool helps renters locate affordable housing in the City of LA. Visit https://affordablehousing.mejiaforcontroller.com.

As City Controller, we will:

  • Work with the LA Housing Department to create a database of all housing units in the City of LA. We will work to ensure this database is updated with current vacancy information, pricing, and ways for renters to apply.  
  • Identify apartments with expiring affordable housing covenants. Our campaign actually recently discovered and publicized the number of expiring affordable housing covenants (See: twitter.com/kennethmejiaLA/status/1440795034501017601). 
  • Calculate the costs to purchase and convert these expiring affordable housing buildings into permanently affordable community-controlled housing.
  • Provide calculations on how much it would cost to build quality public housing using public sector workers vs private/non-profit workers. In turn, we can also calculate how much savings we would have if we had housing with no profit motive.
  • Report on how much public and affordable housing is built or lost each year.
  • Audit the number of homeshare units in the City of LA like AirBnBs and the effectiveness of the city’s enforcement to ensure they are in compliance with city regulations
  • Audit how effective the Housing Department is handling tenant complaints and the time it takes to resolve tenant/landlord disputes.
  • Calculate how many evictions there are per year in the City of LA and the reasons for eviction.
  • Work with the Housing Department to create a citywide tracker of rent increases per apartment complex to show how much rent is increasing throughout the city for better policy making decisions regarding rent control. 
  • Work with the Housing Department to create a citywide tracker of vacancy unit increases per apartment complex to show how much rent is increasing throughout the city for better policy making decisions regarding vacancy control.
  • Explore different housing-related taxes and fees to generate revenue for the City of LA:
    • Vacancy tax – The City of LA can generate up to $150M with a vacancy tax or empty homes tax modeled after the Oakland vacancy tax model, which charges a flat fee to developers/property management companies of vacant properties. There are between 80,000 – 100,000 vacant units in the City of LA.
    • Linkage fees – Linkage fees charge developers per square foot on new nonresidential development and the development of new market rate residential units.