The Westside’s own Sydney Kamlager, whose State Senate district spans Cheviot Hills to Downtown Los Angeles, south to Gramercy Park and Westmont, has successfully shepherded her Senate Bill 679 through both houses of the state legislature by a single vote in each house. The legislation would, for the first time, establish an L.A. County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency.

According to documentation provided by Kamlager’s office, the agency would be charged with raising its own public and private revenue in pursuit of funding, “Solutions to the countywide affordable housing crisis, including 100% affordable housing and renter protection programs.”

The legislation is a response to the ongoing homelessness and affordability crunch facing residents statewide. In L.A. County, the Senator’s office points out that there is a huge overcrowding problem in housing for low-income residents, that the housing is largely segregated, and there is little connection to the housing and nearby services and transit.

What’s more, 79 percent of extremely low-income households county-wide are paying more than half of their income toward housing. Only 3 percent of moderate-income households do so.

The state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) goals for the period 2021 – 2029 dictate the county must develop 341,000 housing units that are affordable or very low-income. Senator Kamlager feels that this ambitious goal is too much for 88 cities to tackle alone or arbitrarily, and thus the need for county leadership and this new county department.

Kamlager’s office states, “L.A. County needs a comprehensive countywide approach to protecting, preserving and creating housing that working and low-income people can access and afford.” They continued, “We need large systemic change that maximizes the scale and strength of L.A. County to push it toward its ambitious RHNA goals. It’s also critical that we scale up key renter supports and protections across the county, including proven strategies like a right to counsel for renters.”

SB 679 will create a 21-member board that will include the Board of Supervisors as well as representatives of several cities around the county, who will team to hire the Agency’s CEO. The bill also establishes a citizens’ oversight committee composed of nine voting members with expertise in affordable housing finance and development, tenant protection, and housing preservation.

The bill now awaits Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature or veto.

Photo by Sundry Photography.

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