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Affordable Housing

June 23, 1991

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich misstated the facts in a June 12 article ("Safety Net Stretched to $341 a Month," Metro) that quoted his reaction to a settlement on raising general relief payments. Contrary to his perception, the City of Los Angeles--through its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)--has been at the vanguard of preserving affordable housing downtown, particularly in Skid Row.

Rather than tearing down single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels downtown, often the last refuge between the would-be homeless and the streets, the CRA has spent more than $35 million in recent years in helping nonprofit developers acquire and restore 37 of these SRO hotels, providing 2,695 units for the city's poorest residents. The total includes funds for two new hotels, the Courtland and Simone, which will soon start construction. In addition, another 400 SRO units are in the pipeline.

Both the Los Angeles County Grand Jury and city audits of CRA's housing programs concluded the agency has more than complied with laws governing replacement of affordable housing in the central business district.

A stone's throw away, the high-rises on Bunker Hill have generated nearly $300 million in tax increment revenue that the CRA has used to build 13,000 low- and moderate-income housing units throughout Los Angeles, including decent housing for seniors, large families and those with special needs such as the disabled and AIDS patients.

The CRA voluntarily replaced all the slum homes removed from Bunker Hill in the late 1950s and early '60s and is a third of the way through replacing them on a 2-to-1 basis. Moreover, more than a third of the new housing on Bunker Hill is for very low-income renters.

Against the backdrop of a worsening homeless crisis caused by lack of affordable housing, it's crucial that city and county officials work together to develop solutions. The Community Redevelopment Agency is a tool that is being used to put those solutions to work.

CARLYLE W. HALL JR., CRA Commissioner, Los Angeles

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