By Veronica Mackey
Affordable housing was the main focus of Tuesday’s Inglewood Council Meeting. Mayor James Butts announced several weeks ago that a housing trust fund was being started to help residents meet housing costs, in addition to programs already in place.
A staffer from the Inglewood Housing Authority gave a report on affordable housing in the city—its history, current status and future.
Affordable housing programs in Inglewood began in 1976, and serve both renters and home buyers. Rental developments include Good Shepherd, Grace Manor, Osage Senior Villas, Grace Manor, Aerick Apartments, PATH Villas Osage Apartments and Regency Towers. The city broke ground 2 weeks ago on the new PATH Eucalyptus senior development, which will be completed next year. Since 2011, the City has begun and/or completed 9 affordable housing projects.
There are currently 22,942 renter-occupied and 13,447 owner-occupied residents in the city. The percentage of total affordable units is 12.4% of all rental properties assisted by the City. A total of 1,340 Section 8 vouchers have been issued. Councilman Ralph Franklin said residents were “concerned about the demise of the Section 8 program, and we now have something in place.”
The City of Inglewood has earmarked $2 million for first-time home buyers. The maximum loan will be $200,000. An additional $4 million will assist qualified non-profit entities in acquiring and rehabbing multi-unit apartment buildings. Another $2 million in bond funds will be used to purchase vacant residential land. The City now has 19 vacant lots that can be used.
A chart showed the average rent in Inglewood, compared to Gardena, Carson, Hawthorne, Los Angeles and California as a whole. Inglewood has the lowest rent, averaging $1,930 to $2,250 from 2012 to 2017. Los Angeles increased rent by 27%, while Inglewood increased rents by 24%.
A woman said the comparisons with the state and surrounding cities were not accurate because Inglewood has an overall lower income that other cities.
Erick Holly, Inglewood Airport Area Chamber of Commerce President, reiterated that Inglewood is still the lowest city out of the entire South Bay.
Councilman Eloy Morales noted. “Rent has always been more reasonable here for what you get.”
Some of the factors affecting rent increases are: lack of development, more people living in urban areas, and an improved economy.
With confirmation from Royce Jones, counsel for redevelopment, Mayor James Butts explained why the push by some residents for Inglewood to build affordable housing on the site of the proposed Clippers arena is unfeasible. Besides the fact that the City has an agreement with the FAA not to build new homes because the lot is underneath a flight path, Jones concurred that if the city were to break the agreement and buy back the parcel, it would cost roughly 10 times (around $1 million) more than it did 20-25 years ago.
Second, the City would have to discount the land for developers to build. “If the developer pays $30-$40 million, it would go toward reimbursing the FAA for the money it loaned us. We would lose tens of millions of dollars out of the General Fund,” Butts said.
Royce mentioned the employment benefit of building the arena vs. affordable housing. Butts added, “That goes along with $15 million in property taxes, ticket taxes, parking taxes, sales taxes. It gets to be stupid...”
During closing remarks Councilman George Dotson thanked workers at Ed Vincent Park for re-hanging the flag, for the opportunity to walk to school with Inglewood students and the 6th Avenue Block Club for an informative meeting.
Councilman Alex Padilla recalled last week’s Fedex job fair. The new facility is opening right across the street from Rogers Park. “It was standing room only,” he said. Padilla also announced the annual October Carnival this weekend (Friday through Sunday night) at St. John’s Chrysostom Church.
Mayor Butts used his time to emphasize that a lot of the rhetoric heard about the City’s intention to use the parcel for the proposed Clippers’ arena is not true. “We have some enemies in our community that are actively trying to sabotage some of the greatest development to happen in the city. We have people going door-to-door in Councilman Padilla’s district, knocking on doors and passing out literature (that the City is taking their homes).” He reiterated that the City is not going to take anyone’s home to build the arena, and added, “There is no other city that can say within 3 years’ time they are on the verge of acquiring 3 professional sports teams.”