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L.A. County Puts $15 Million into Affordable Housing

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday committed to spend $15 million on affordable housing, using money from redevelopment agency accounts dissolved by state law.

The board stopped short of a five-year, $75 million pledge recommended by Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“Since the dissolution of redevelopment, Los Angeles County has received approximately $75 million from redevelopment agencies’ housing set-aside accounts – all resources that were intended for the development of affordable housing projects,” Molina said. She urged the board to “take the

dollars that have come into the county and put them back out.”

Developers of affordable, supportive housing warned that the number of projects was in decline after the disbanding of redevelopment agencies, while demand was as high as ever.

Will Cipes of developer Thomas Safran & Associates said 4,700 people requested applications on the first day they became available for Jefferson Square Apartments, a 40-unit affordable housing project in Jefferson Park.

Several developers said they needed local commitments in order to access federal and state resources, including tax credits.

“The funds are especially critical at this time,” said David Howden of the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

But Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a longtime champion of affordable housing, said that until the county reviewed its budget in June, he would advise against a five-year commitment.

Instead, he asked his colleagues to approve $15 million for this year, hold the funds aside in a separate account and determine during budget deliberations “what we can afford to earmark in the coming months and years.”

Yaroslavsky said the three-month delay would not create a gap in the momentum for new projects.

The board’s vote in favor of $15 million in funding was unanimous and prompted the boardroom audience to break into applause.