L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa unveils housing plan

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has introduced what he called a major new commitment to build affordable housing in the city. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports that it's a five-year, $5 billion plan to build or preserve 20,000 apartments and homes working families can afford.

Frank Stoltze: By leveraging $1 billion the city's already allocated for affordable housing, the mayor hopes to raise an additional 4 billion from private and other government sources. He said L.A. can do it, even in this volatile economy.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: We believe, and feel very strongly, even if there is a fall-off in the credit market, and we expect there will be, other doors will open.

Stoltze: The mayor said it's the first time the city's housing, planning, and community development departments are working together to attract affordable housing developers. The national non-profit Enterprise Community Partners already has committed $700 million to the effort. The group's Jeff Schaffer said the biggest challenge may be overcoming resistance to low-income housing.

Jeff Schaffer: When we talk about building affordable housing, that's going to have end up in neighborhoods throughout the city. And that's going to be a challenge.

Stoltze: The city would locate some of that housing along subway and bus routes as part of what the mayor's calling "sustainable transit communities." The plan also requires market rate housing developers to set aside a percentage of new projects for low- and moderate-income residents. Carol Schatz of the Central City Association suggested that's a bad idea in a tight credit market.

Carol Schatz: Without a mandate of low-income housing, it is almost impossible to get financing to build anything.

Stoltze: But housing advocates praised the mayor's plan. It includes 2,200 permanent supportive housing units for homeless Angelenos. The plan's subject to City Council approval.