Low-Income Housing Plans to Get Hearing

Times Staff Writer

A proposal recommending land acquisitions, interest subsidies and density bonuses to encourage developers to build housing for the elderly and the poor will be evaluated during upcoming public hearings, Glendale city officials said Tuesday.

The hearings, which will focus on updating the housing element of the city's general plan for the next five years, will take place June 5 before the Planning Commission and June 13 before the City Council.

The updated plan will determine how to spend the $1.4 million set aside by the council in March for low-income housing projects as required by state law, City Manager David Ramsay said Tuesday.

State redevelopment laws require that, starting this year, cities spend 20% of the property taxes they collect on low-income housing. They also require that the city establish housing plans by 1996.

Waiting Lists

There are about 940 federally subsidized apartments in Glendale, Community Development Department Director Madalyn Blake said. Waiting lists for the units stretch from three to four years with about 1,400 senior citizens signed up, she said.

The community development report does not say how much money should go to the different programs that it recommends. Blake said her department will make specific recommendations on how to spend the money after receiving input from the public hearings and studying the housing element update.

The city does not subsidize low-income housing, Blake said, but it does provide variance and density relief to developers who build low-income projects.

The community development proposal on how to spend the redevelopment funds was first presented to the council at a study session in November.

The proposal recommends the following actions as top priority:

Acquiring land for resale or lease at a subsidized cost to developers committed to low-income projects.

Using federal and city funds to subsidize mortgage and interest payments of low-income homeowners.

Enhancing density bonuses already allowed to developers who build low-income homes.

Encouraging development by nonprofit organizations.

Acquiring and rehabilitating deteriorated buildings.

Other options spelled out in the report are rental assistance subsidies, home-sharing programs, home-improvement grants, deferred loans and moving grants.

The report also recommends that the city not adopt measures requiring inclusionary zoning, which would require developers to set aside a percentage of all new units built as affordable housing. "It's a developer disincentive," the report says.

Also receiving a negative recommendation is the option of granting utility subsidies to low-income dwellers. "Reduces housing costs but no return to the city," the report says.

Parallel to the hearings, Duran said, the Community Development Department is working on an updated version of the November report, which will contain specific recommendations instead of prioritizing options.

In addition to the Redevelopment Agency funds, Blake said, her department channels to low-income dwellers about $5 million from the federal government for housing-assistance programs and $1.5 million for community-revitalization programs.

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