Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Step In the Right Direction . . .

Affordable housing advocates in Long Beach (this would include me) are in a celebratory mood!

Yes, after a little over three years, Long Beach finally passed a Housing Trust Fund. The HTF wasn’t everything I wanted, but politics, you don’t often do. I got enough of what I wanted that I’m happy with the results. To be anything less would be ungrateful. So, needless to say, I had a great week last week. And, to be honest I’m not sure things have entirely sunk in.

Last week the Long Beach City Council voted unanimously to approve the Housing Trust Fund, but with a major amendment to the original proposal. The City Council voted to allocate 50% of the Housing Trust Fund towards extremely-low income housing. This is a 30% increase from the original motion passed in October 2005

The Council voted to adopt the targeting recommended in the original staff proposal – 50/50 – 50% for extremely-low income, and 50% for above-moderate. Last October, the Council stunned and angered Housing Long Beach by voting to allocate 80% of the Housing Trust Fund for above-moderate income housing.

I owe a special thanks to Council Member Tonia Reyes-Uranga for seemingly reviving the staff proposal from the dead. The afternoon prior to the vote, I didn’t think this was a possibility. I also owe a special thanks also to Council Member Bonnie Lowenthal for her support throughout. She had the idea for a Housing Trust Fund in Long Beach. As long as the City Council votes for the ordinance one more time tomorrow night (upon what is known as the second reading), her dream will be fulfilled.

The Housing Trust Fund will have $500,000 allocated from the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (Hotel/Motel Tax), and $3,000,000 (in installments) from Boeing's Douglas Park project. On the horizon is a condo-conversion fee that could generate up to $1,000,000 a year.

The City of Long Beach has taken a big step in the right direction by dedicating half of the Housing Trust Funds to our residents who find an affordable place to live, most out of reach. I would like to thank everybody who has been involved in this effort in some way, shape, or form! A special thanks, goes to my friend, Susanne Browne, for her tireless and heroic effort . . .

Kosher Ham

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