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Crisis in Affordable Housing

December 24, 1988

The L.A. Times deserves kudos for focusing public attention on Los Angeles' affordable-housing crisis. Unfortunately, reporter Jill Stewart took the Community Redevelopment Agency's housing record out of context and failed to provide perspective. She also misrepresented Mayor Tom Bradley's plan for generating more than $2 billion for housing and homeless services by raising CRA's downtown spending cap.

The City of Los Angeles Blue Ribbon Committee for Affordable Housing, made up of 35 top housing experts, community and elected officials, strongly supports lifting CRA's cap. Moreover, the panel's report cites the agency's strong housing production performance.

Indeed, CRA's record in producing housing for poor people in Los Angeles is second to none. More than 15,500 very low, low and moderate income housing units have been built or rehabilitated with CRA assistance, most within the past decade.

Since its creation in 1948, CRA has removed about 11,000 housing units. Eighty-five percent were cleared before Mayor Bradley took office. However, Stewart failed to point out that two-thirds of the total units removed by CRA were former Bunker Hill dwellings cleared almost 30 years ago when the bulldozer was the prime tool of urban renewal. CRA voluntarily replaced every unit with decent, uncrowded housing and is a third of the way through replacing a second layer.

In CRA's more recent projects--those adopted since 1977--the agency has been legally bound to replace every housing unit it removes on at least a one-to-one basis.

While taking the redevelopment agency to task for not producing more large family units, Stewart again fails to mention that it was CRA--in a pioneering move--that issued a call to developers in 1986 for proposals for large family units. The recent ground breaking for Westminster Park Plaza in Watts is a typical example of a major CRA-assisted development that will include more than 50 low-rent apartments featuring three or more bedrooms for large low-income families. The nonprofit sponsor received a $5 million low-interest loan from CRA.

CRA has spent more than $80 million on housing and other assistance for the homeless and potentially homeless downtown and citywide.

If the downtown cap is lifted, CRA will invest an additional $2.1 billion to expand these efforts over the next 20 years.

JOHN J. TUITE

CRA Administrator

Los Angeles

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