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Shared housing at risk in Los Angeles County

A for sale sign is seen in front of a home on January 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
A for sale sign is seen in front of a home on January 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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Last week, the Los Angeles Public Safety Committee unanimously passed the Community Care Facilities Ordinance. The proposal, put forth by L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander (District 12, San Fernando Valley) would severely limit or outright eliminate shared housing in certain areas of Los Angeles. The main focus is on neighborhoods with single-family homes, which are mostly found in suburban areas, many of which are found in Englander’s San Fernando Valley district.

The new law would change the city’s definition of “boarding house” to include any homes with three or more leases, requiring them to obtain a license, and it would force more oversight on licensed group homes housing seven or more people. Many community groups and neighborhood authorities applaud Englander’s measure, as these types of living situations often bring along headaches for the neighbors. But critics feel that the proposal disenfranchises former inmates, those with disabilities, the impoverished and people seeking drug rehabilitation, all of which are groups that live in these shared houses because it’s the best they can do given their financial situation. Opponents also cite how Englander is targeting L.A. suburbs in the Valley, but would still allow for these homes in Downtown, South and East Los Angeles, all of which have less single-family homes.

Critics are crying foul, saying that this is classic NIMBY-ism. Furthermore, they have accused Englander of exploiting the recent Northridge shootings which were committed by a former felon who lived in one such boarding house. This proposal has been tabled for five years, but opponents are convinced that Englander is simply stoking fear to get it back on the books. It faces a full council vote in January.

Where do you stand on this issue? Has your community been negatively affected by these types of living conditions? Do you live in shared housing? Who are the major players on both sides?


Adam Murray, Executive Director of the Inner City Law Center, the only provider of legal services on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, ICLC combats slum housing while developing strategies to end homelessness.

David Reid, Hollywood resident living next to a shared living house with 18 people, and member of Melrose Action, an informal neighborhood authority