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Quake Funds for Housing

October 09, 1994

Recent articles (Sept. 19, 20 and 22) have mischaracterized my actions regarding the allocation of $47 million in housing funds. The position that I advocated was done in a fair manner, would have boosted, not cut, the amount of aid that city staff recommended for earthquake-impacted areas, and sought to protect the interests of the city as a whole.

First, the Aug. 17 vote on the housing funds resulted through a fair process. The vote was noticed 72 hours in advance and action was taken in the full light of day on the council floor in a public forum. The Times acknowledged this fact in its Aug. 23 editorial by noting that the item was posted on the agenda five days before the council meeting. Five of the seven Valley representatives were present at the start of the session. If the missing council members had concerns about the council taking up the item during their absence, they should have communicated them to me, the chairman of the Housing and Community Redevelopment (HCR) Committee, or my staff.

Second, the amount of aid for the quake-impacted Valley areas would have been boosted under my proposal, not cut. The staff of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) had recommended $8 million. I sought to increase it to $15 million, $7 million more than recommended!

My third point is that I sought to protect the interests of the city as a whole. My proposal to allocate $7 million more for quake-hit areas than was recommended by the CRA staff was coupled with my attempt to ensure that the largest portion of funds was directed for citywide housing needs. I sought the following breakdown for the $47 million: $18 million for citywide housing, $15 million for earthquake-impacted areas, and $14 million for civil unrest-hit areas. The dire need for affordable housing exists citywide. We cannot lose sight of the fact that irrespective of the earthquake, Los Angeles is down 15,000 housing units on an annual basis according to the Planning and Housing departments. The $18 million slice of the pie would have been open to the appetites of civil disturbance-hit, earthquake-hit, and other areas based on need. I sought to maintain the city's focus on its housing needs for all areas of Los Angeles.

MARK RIDLEY-THOMAS

Councilman, Eighth District

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