As the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) decommissions thousands of bungalows once used as classrooms, these units could potentially be converted into detached, low-cost small houses that could help alleviate Los Angeles County’s lack of affordable housing. To explore this innovative strategy, today the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion, authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, that directs pertinent County Departments to provide a report back in 120 days on the feasibility of converting these units into affordable accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
“In L.A. County, we are facing an unprecedented housing crisis that is pricing hardworking families out of their homes and pushing them into homelessness,” said Supervisor Solis. “The County needs to add more than half a million affordable units to meet the existing demand from low-income renters. Government subsidized housing and large-scale developments are not enough to meet this demand. As the County combats homelessness in partnership with other government agencies, we must seek creative solutions, and accessory dwelling units could be one innovative way to help ease our region’s lack of affordable housing.”
“The severity of the housing and homelessness crisis we are facing in L.A. County requires all of us to come together to develop real solutions,” said LAUSD school board member Jackie Goldberg. “LAUSD has literally thousands of unused bungalows that we are in the process of removing, which could be converted to housing for residents experiencing homelessness. This is a win-win for all involved. I support Supervisor Solis’ Board motion and applaud her leadership in bringing it.”
The 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found that nearly 59,000 people experience homelessness in L.A. County on any given night — a 12 percent increase from the previous year. In LAUSD alone, over 17,000 students experience homelessness.
Housing experts attribute these rising numbers to skyrocketing housing costs. In L.A. County, the median home price in August 2019 was over $600,000. The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment now stands at more than $1,700 a month, and a two-bedroom apartment is priced at over $2,200 a month.
ADUs, which are also referred to as “granny flats,” are small housing units that are not connected to an original house, and have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living space. ADUs are often located in the backyard of a larger home. With recent state legislation easing ADU zoning restrictions, these units minimize environmental impacts and require no new land costs. In addition, granny flats offer seniors and low-income homeowners a viable means to generate income through rents, provide multi-generational living for families at all stages of life, and facilitate caregiver housing.
Today’s motion will explore the feasibility of an ADU-specific low-interest financing program for senior citizens and low-income residents, including temporary property tax exemptions. This Board motion also directs pertinent County Departments to develop a framework for a collaborative partnership with the local Conservation Corps, the Los Angeles and Orange County Building Trades, local universities and community colleges, and the LA County Department of Public Works in creating standard adaptive re-use designs of these ADUs and securing state certification of these redesigns. This collaborative program is expected to give Corps members and other youth hands-on training that could help them transition into careers in the building trades.
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