At an average home price of $228,000, house-hunting is a waste of time for all too many Los Angeles families. Now there is a way to make home-ownership available for residents with modest incomes: Nehemiah West.
In Brooklyn, where the concept originated, church-based community groups used financing from major religious denominations to build 1,800 small but very affordable houses on land donated by the city.
The Nehemiah plan can also work in Los Angeles. Two community groups--the Southern California Organizing Committee and United Neighborhoods Organization--are ready to build 316 townhouse-style homes in South-Central Los Angeles.
They would sell for about $62,000--a price within reach of families that earn between $18,000 to $23,000 annually.
The homes, though small and in an industrial area, would be quite a bargain. The average house sells for more than $100,000 in South-Central Los Angeles.
Money is usually the stopper in nonprofit housing development, but SCOC and UNO have most of the financing in place for the $35- million project. The major holdup is the land. The city owns most of the parcel near 41st and Alameda streets.
The site had been intended as the home of LANCER, a huge municipal trash incinerator. A coalition of black community activists and suburban environmentalists derailed the controversial project three years ago. Since then, the land has remained vacant. SCOC and UNO want to buy the property for $6.6 million, which is less than the city paid for the 12 acres several years ago.
Mayor Tom Bradley supports the deal, which would result in a public subsidy of affordable housing for struggling, first-time buyers.
The Los Angeles City Council, which took up Nehemiah in committee Monday, should approve the below-market sale and thus help ease the housing crisis for hard-working families who want to own their homes instead of renting for life.