Readers React

L.A.'s housing market is starting to look a lot like 2007

To the editor: For working-class people in America's most unaffordable rental market, raising the minimum wage helps, as will plans to upgrade public transportation. But housing prices growing four times faster than income levels since 2000 is clearly not a case of demand chasing supply. Population has only increased by 5%. ("L.A. has a serious housing crisis and it's time for city officials to do something about it," Editorial, Jan. 11)

Expecting the city to resolve the problem by expanding affordable housing diverts attention from its root cause.

The financial bubble last decade that pushed prices beyond affordability involved banks, credit rating agencies, federal regulators and legislators who neglected to protect the public. After the bubble burst, prices declined, providing needed relief.

But in recent years, with the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing, cash-laden firms and investors have poured billions into buying properties, restoring the same unaffordable price conditions seen in 2007.

Eugene Mullaly, San Diego


To the editor: Requiring multifamily developers to set aside low-income housing units in exchange for bigger projects is a good idea, but it results in very expensive affordable units that impact too few families.

The high cost of new construction means that low-income apartments are being built almost exclusively in high-rent areas. A one-bedroom apartment that normally rents for $3,000 a month offered to a low-income household at $900 is a $2,100 subsidy benefiting only one family.

More households would benefit if the developer paid the city an annual "in lieu" fee, in this case $2,100, which could fund rent subsidy vouchers of $700 for three families.

With few public funds available and a housing affordability crisis, L.A. needs creative ideas that leverage today's private multifamily investments to make low-income housing available to more families.

Daniel Tenenbaum, Los Angeles

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