Anti-housing policy

first_imgAs the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for one day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” If L.A.’s politicians truly want to help the poor people of the city, they would teach them to fish rather than just offer them a fatter fish that might last an extra day or two. The housing equivalent of learning to fish is the opportunity to get good jobs and the chance to own property. And that’s what will make the difference in the lives of the city’s vast renter class. Boosting relocation pay is politically expedient, but it won’t turn renters into owners or make Los Angeles a healthier city. This debate and policy change comes as a response to the explosion of condo conversions that has greatly reduced the city’s rental stock, which must already be disproportionately high if it can accommodate about 2.5 million people. Why L.A. would even want to preserve such a shamefully high proportion of rental stock is another question entirely. Increasing the rates of homeownership would do more for this city than traffic relief on the 405. Once again, the council has been reactive rather than progressive, and could do more harm than good to available housing. Already, the real-estate market is cooling, and as it does, so will the pressure to convert apartments into condos. The bottom line is that the city needs to stop reacting to the immediate political pressures wrought by the housing boom. Instead, it should start developing a comprehensive housing plan that seeks to encourage homeownership – including in newly converted condos – rather than simply putting more restrictions on rental units and landlords.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! THE Los Angeles City Council spent hours Wednesday listening to testimony on increasing the relocation aid for evicted renters. Council members debated extensively about how to expand the safety net for people who find themselves on the short end of the condominium-conversion trend that’s transforming much of the city. They heard from low-income, hard-working people who are facing evictions from their apartments and can’t afford the market rate out there. And they heard from middle-income people who also can’t afford the market rate out there. In the end, the council voted to double the amount of money – up to $17,080 – that landlords have to pay to evicted tenants. They also introduced a means test that would make poorer families eligible for more money than others, the latest examples of City Hall’s municipal socialism policies and one that will require even more bureaucracy. According to council members, about 70 percent of the city’s residents are renters. That means it’s good politics to be on their side – even if it’s with an act that will do little to help low-income workers and families find long-term affordable housing in Los Angeles. last_img