LA County tapping into grant to speed up affordable housing construction – LA Daily News

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LOS ANGELES — A new county agency aimed at addressing the homelessness crisis received a $660,000 grant to develop and launch a plan to ramp up how affordable housing is built, officials announced Thursday.
The L.A. County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency received the grant from the Southern California Association of Governments. The funds will help the agency establish a plan to guide operations, attract private investment capital and prevent homelessness in the process.
“This is such a big moment, a new era toward making housing more affordable for all of us,” Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who began her term this year as LACAHSA’s first board chair, said in a statement.
According to Mitchell, there’s a frustration among county leaders with how “difficult and expensive” it is to break the logjam in the housing crisis.
“LACAHSA is our first-ever regional approach to making housing more affordable across the whole county,” Mitchell said. “The award is like rocket fuel to help get us off the ground and make the first projects possible to accelerate how we produce and preserve affordable homes and prevent people from falling into homelessness.”
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LACAHSA was created by a 2022 state law introduced by then-state Sen. Sydney Kamlager, and is governed by a board of leaders and experts from communities across the county.
The grant funds will also support the design of new pilot programs to simplify how affordable housing can be funded and built across the county of Los Angeles, officials said.
One affordable housing pilot, for example, will unlock a tax-emption tool that would enable developers to tap into one single private loan —bypassing the often “complex” public financing and tax credit models that make housing develop in the county so slow and expensive.
County officials said the pilot would correct a “key failure” of the affordable housing financing system, which is the costly and slow “capital stack process” that may force developers to assemble multiple public loans and tax credits over many years — driving up costs.
LACAHSA will “advance equity and prevent homelessness at the scale of the problem, helping people stay housed through countywide programs including eviction protection and rental assistance, and scaling up the preservation and production of affordable housing,” officials said.
“LACAHSA is the missing piece we’ve needed for decades in order to tackle our housing crisis with bold, scalable solutions across our whole county,” Elise Buik, president & CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said in a statement. “We’ve essentially created a ‘Metro’ for housing — something LA desperately needs in order to solve our housing crisis at the true scale of the problem.”
One of the new agency’s programs is the property tax abatement tool, made possible by the state welfare property tax exemption (WTE), in which housing developers can enter into joint development agreements with LACAHSA.
By entering into a joint agreement with LACAHSA, developers receive a tax exemption provided they guarantee quality affordable units in the long-term.
As a public agency, LACAHSA can “attract private investment through this tax exemption, acquisition and land banking, and other innovative strategies,” according to county officials. Similar approaches have been employed in San Francisco, New York City and Texas.
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