Endorsement: California has money for homeless housing. Vote yes on Proposition LH so L.A. can use it

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Proposition LH on the November 8 Los Angeles ballot should not be necessary. But because an antiquated and racist provision to block public housing remains in the California Constitution, LA could miss out on funds available to build homelessness and affordable housing without passing this procedural measure.

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offer lh Will allow development, construction or acquisition of 5,000 additional affordable housing units in each of the city’s 15 council districts. It would not require the city to build, acquire or permit a single unit, nor would it generate funds for affordable housing. It is only an authority for up to 75,000 units of publicly funded affordable housing across the city.

Los Angeles last received this authorization in 2008, when voters overwhelmingly allowed up to 3,500 units of publicly funded affordable housing in each council district. Since then, as the homelessness and housing crisis has become more severe, and voters and lawmakers have committed funds to build more affordable homes, some council districts are close to hitting that 3,500-unit limit.


Without a new authorization from the LH, large areas of the city – including downtown, Eastside, Hollywood and parts of central and south LA – will soon hit the hat, which means cities and states can no longer approve publicly funded affordable housing projects in those areas. It can stunt growth for seniors, the elderly, families and people on the verge of homelessness. State and local funding for affordable housing will go to other communities and cities.

Proposal Why is LH authorization necessary? Because of Article 34 in the state’s constitution, which was adopted in 1950 amid a discriminatory backlash against public housing. It requires that cities get voter approval before they can build “low-rent housing” with public money.

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A real estate industry group drafted a constitutional amendment after the Federal Housing Act of 1949 banned explicit racial segregation in public housing. The ballot initiative was designed as a way for residents to maintain “local control”. But although it was draconically under the guise of grassroots democracy, giving voters a veto power over public housing was actually a way to keep mostly white voters away from low-income and minority residents from their communities.

It worked. By 1968, voters across the state had turned down nearly half of the proposed public housing, and many communities had put projects on hold instead of voting. Eventually, developers and cities found ways to overcome the constraints of Article 34, including asking voters to adopt broad measures such as the proposal to authorize the LH total number of new public housing units.

While voters in LA have repeatedly approved additional units—and may do so again by passing resolution LH—Article 34 creates unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to address one of the city’s biggest problems. Fortunately, California voters will have the opportunity to repeal it through a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot.

It’s been a long time since the removal of this racist relic from the California Constitution. Until then, Los Angeles voters can continue the city’s progress toward mitigating the homeless and affordable housing crisis by voting yes on Proposition LH.

Source: www.latimes.com

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