The LABC has a long history of focusing on the housing affordability gap in Los Angeles County, where inadequate public transportation and a lack of affordable workplace housing have worsened traffic congestion and harmed business’ ability to recruit and retain workers. The LABC’s Housing Scorecard has detailed the scope of the region’s housing crisis and offered constructive policy proposals to help employers meet the housing and transportation needs of our region. The LABC was also an early supporter of Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 to provide additional funding for transit projects.
LABC’s Studies on Workforce Housing
In October 2012, the LABC Institute released Building Livable Communities: Enhancing Economic Competitiveness in Los Angeles, produced in collaboration with Paul Habibi, Professor of Real Estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Business. The report was guided by a Livable Communities Advisory Committee composed of public- and private-sector housing and transportation leaders, and was commissioned as a follow-up to the LABC’s 2008 Workforce Housing Scorecard for Los Angeles.
The report examines the current supply of workforce housing in Greater Los Angeles – an issue critical to the region’s economic competitiveness – in light of the housing crisis and economic downturn from which L.A. is struggling to recover.The report finds that failing to adequately address the widening housing affordability gap will cause the region to become far less attractive to current and future employers, and less competitive against other metropolitan areas where quality workforce housing is in far greater supply.Proactive public policy solutions are critical to meeting the need for workforce housing and ensuring Los Angeles remains a world-class destination for the nation’s leading employers and talent. Chief among these solutions is support for the expansion of the region’s transit system and the encouragement of housing development along rail and rapid bus corridors – not simply near transit stations.
The study finds that improving connections to the transit system for people living near these corridors links them to job centers, and makes the development of workforce housing far more feasible. Connecting workforce housing to employment centers also creates “livable communities” that lower transportation costs, travel time, regional congestion, pollution, and other negative side effects of our workforce housing shortage.
Released in September 2008, the Workforce Housing Scorecard describes the factors leading to the significant jobs/housing imbalance and quantifies the severity of the problem. For example, between 1990 and 2007, Los Angeles County reported a net gain of 1,433,531 new residents but added only 194,554 housing units – a seven-fold differential.
According to the Scorecard, nearly two decades of rising housing costs have squeezed low and middle income residents, causing many to sink an increasingly large share of their income into their place of residence. In 2007, a family earning the countywide median income of $53,000 per year spent more than 50 percent of their earnings to purchase a home in Los Angeles County – far greater than the 30 percent recommended by experts.
Released in October 2009, the LABC report, titled the Los Angeles Employer Assisted Housing Handbook, argues that Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs can play a pivotal role in improving regional economic competitiveness and jobs/housing balance in the short-term, and work as part of a long-term economic development strategy that includes encouraging smart growth, investing in public transportation and building a vibrant clean-tech economy.