Glendale’s greatest challenge is the growing disparity between affordable and market-rate housing. The entire community, along with the City Council, has a real opportunity to be leaders in unity with a vision to reimagine Glendale and create a city that puts all the people who live here at the center of its economy — a city that enacts meaningful programs to create decent and affordable housing, with safe and clean streets. Yet, where is the leadership on this? The City Council steadfastly refuses to address this chasm of social inequality, and behaves as deaf, mute and blind to the very real economic suffering that is a plague on Glendale’s house.
There are two direct actions the City Council could take right now to begin to remedy this rapidly growing disparity.
First, even though the Federal Housing Administration doesn’t require developers to designate 20% of their units as affordable housing, Glendale could require that any developer proposing to do business here must be committed to that number, at the very least. That could protect residents from opportunists. One real estate firm recently bought two multifamily buildings as “value-add” acquisitions. The only “value” being added is to the firm’s coffers as they extract wealth from our city with $800 monthly rent increases, leaving devastated renters in their wake. That’s not a typo — take it in — an $800-a-month rent increase.
The second action is rent stabilization.
Government statistics clarify why the second remedy is an imperative duty. To afford market-rate rent in Glendale, or anywhere in the Los Angeles area, a household must earn $100,000. But the median income in Glendale is $54,000. And 47% of Glendale households earn less than $50,000 annually. Divide $50,000 by 12 and get $4,167 gross per month. The common use rule of spending no more than 30% of gross income on rent, which is used by private landlords and mortgage lenders, would be $1,250. The average rent for a studio apartment in Glendale? $1,929. How many people do you think it’s possible to pack into a 400-square-foot studio to come up with that monthly nut?
That’s an inhumane amount of money to ask anyone to spend for a roof over their heads. So rent stabilization (aka rent control) is urgent because people’s lives hang in the balance. Renters live on the razor’s edge, spending more than 50% of their income on rent. Homeowners don’t. Is rent stabilization a perfect solution? No. But rent stabilization is a first step to bringing justice to the economic violence of unregulated capitalism heaped upon 60% of our neighbors.
By every measure, producing affordable housing strengthens the fabric of our community, is good for all Glendale residents, and helps our city thrive. My invocation is for the City Council to be healed from its indifference and to take action in the best interest of the majority of residents of Glendale who are being pulled under and drowning in the riptide of ever-increasing rents. It is up to the citizens of Glendale to insist upon right action. We must ask ourselves, “Do we as a city, as a community, have the moral will and ethical backbone to make stable affordable housing a core value?”