POINT OF VIEW

From newspaper headlines to serious studies by housing experts, there’s rarely a day that goes by that we aren’t reminded of the growing affordability crisis in housing. Whether we are talking about our largest cities or smallest towns, lower income residents are struggling to pay the rent, if they can find a home at all.

 

A recent report on the situation in Los Angeles County produced by the California Housing Partnership, “Los Angeles County Renters Crisis: A Call for Action” provides sobering statistics:

 

  • Cuts in federal and state funding, including elimination of State Redevelopment, have reduced investment in affordable housing production and preservation in Los Angeles County by nearly $457 million annually since 2008, a 64% reduction.
  • Median rent in Los Angeles County has increased 32% since 2000 while median renter household income has decreased 3%, when adjusted for inflation.
  • Renters need to earn 4 times local minimum wage to afford the median asking rent of $2,499 in Los Angeles County.
  • Los Angeles County’s lowest-income renters spend 70% of income on rent, leaving little left for food, transportation, health expenses, and other needs.
  • When housing costs are considered, Los Angeles County’s poverty rate rises from 18.3% to 25.6%.
  • Los Angeles County needs 551,807 more affordable rental homes to meet the needs of its lowest-income renters
Pov Addressing Affordable Housing Crisis

Those at risk represent a diverse community each with their own social needs as well as housing needs—the homeless, including large numbers of veterans; seniors; and families with children.

 

Working with leading developers across California, Withee Malcolm Architects is committed to addressing this growing problem with a wide range of solutions. In the last few years, we have designed thousands of units of affordable housing. These diverse communities include intergenerational developments for family and seniors, housing for the formerly homeless and special needs residents, mixed-use developments with public and private social components including service retail, community centers, pre-schools, vegetable gardens, and even a public library branch. Many are close to public transit and other important services.

 

Collaborating with the developers as well as social service agencies, housing authorities, and local governments, we understand the issues and are constantly evolving our affordable housing models to meet developing needs. We have been designing affordable housing for over 20 years and recognize the urgency of the crisis. We have also seen the positive impact of these communities as they catalyze change for individuals, neighborhoods and local economies.

 

There is opportunity at every phase of development to improve both the process and affordable housing product. That’s why we spend hours with neighbors helping them to understand the value of new housing; why we stay current on zoning and code issues in dozens of cities and towns; and why we coordinate closely with the planners, engineers and contractors to keep costs in line.

 

When the housing is finally built and we hear the stories of the residents—the formerly homeless, the struggling moms and the grateful seniors— we know we can’t let people like them remain dire statistics.