May 12, 2015

Topic: Reclaiming Neighborhoods

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Does New Affordable Housing in Boyle Heights Address Community Needs?

Boyle Heights – Two thirds of the proposed housing on the vacant MTA lots will be unaffordable to a majority of Boyle Heights residents. Developers are setting their income levels to qualify for the apartments using the LA County Area Median Income of $81,500. However, the Boyle Heights Median Family Income is $35,341 thereby making much of the housing they build inaccessible to many Boyle Heights residents.

Since 1996, Boyle Heights has had a loss of 1,294 affordable housing units for extremely low income families as a result of publicly funded projects. This housing has never been replaced in spite of a growing population and a need for housing for those who make $25,000 and below. In addition, one of the developers of the MTA lots proposes demolishing rent controlled housing and displacing tenants. This only contributes to the gentrification occurring in Boyle Heights.

The MTA and developers propose building 280 housing units. 67% will be for those who make above the median family income of in Boyle Heights of $35,341 and only 33% for those who make below. Fewer housing are proposed for those at lower income levels and more housing will be built for those at higher income levels. This should be reversed to truly reflect and address the housing needs in Boyle Heights. In addition, due to federal regulations, Boyle Heights residents will not get priority for the housing. Anyone from anywhere is welcome to apply.

‘The net loss of housing combined with new housing targeting higher income tenants is contributing to the displacement of current residents and the gentrification of Boyle Heights,” said Leonardo Vilchis, Co-Director of Union de Vecinos. “Affordable housing developers should be building housing that matches the income levels of local neighborhoods.”

At a recent meeting of the Union de Vecinos, leaders rejected the proposed plan and demand that the MTA and the developers:

• Use Boyle Heights local median family income as the basis for setting income limits

• Build all the housing units for those who make $25,000 and below

• Seek out other capital and unrestricted funds to subsidize building more housing at lower income limits.