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Mayor Garcetti takes on affordable housing and the minimum wage

Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses the media outside Council Chamber.
Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses the media outside Council Chamber.
Alice Walton/KPCC

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is more than halfway through his first term, and on his agenda: improving LA’s lack of affordable housing and increasing the minimum wage. 

Mayor Garcetti says the city’s working poor can’t make ends meet, and hopes raising the minimum wage will put pressure on other cities to do the same. "The very best workers are going to go where the highest wages are. They are going to save those businesses money with lower turnover, lower training, and harder work. I think it helps everybody not to subsidize poverty. which has been very expensive for all of us."

The LA County Board of Supervisors is set to meet today to decide whether to raise the minimum wage from $9/hr to $15/hr.  While some business owners are concerned  that a higher minimum wage will make it more difficult to pay employees or sustain operating costs, Garcetti argues that as wages increase more money will be spent at the local businesses. "Raising the minimum wage on its own helps businesses. Folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum aren't going save this money, they are going to spend it. And when you put billions back in the main streets of our neighborhoods that helps those restaurants and stores."

LA is one of the least affordable counties in the country. As a way to help reduce inflated housing costs, Garcetti plans to build 100,000 affordable housing units for Angelenos by the year 2021. He says at this time, the city is a quarter of the way to reaching its goal.

As the city expands  its public transit, Garcetti says  it  should also be expanding its affordable housing.  "We really need to build these units or else people are going to be struggling with $3,000 a month rents for single bedroom apartments in certain places."

He says “it is not a question of growth or no growth, it's whether we build for it and add an infrastructure to the city to accommodate it."