Los Angeles–As is the case in every other major city in the country, the supply of affordable housing in Los Angeles has never been able to catch up with demand, and the recession has worsened the situation. Well aware of local studies documenting the fact that nonprofit organizations are struggling to address greater demand for assistance during a time when government funding and charitable contributions have diminished, Enterprise Community Partners Inc. has culled $1.5 million to aid sustainable low-income housing projects.
“We are making a concerted effort to help struggling affordable housing developers–who are struggling because of the economy–get through the recession and come out of it even stronger,” Jeff Schaffer, vice president and Los Angeles Impact Market leader with Enterprise, tells MHN. “We’ve taken the lead here in Los Angeles, but it’s something that has morphed into a national Enterprise initiative that we’re employing around the country.
The $1.5 million in funds Enterprise is providing in Los Angeles includes approximately $500,000 in low-interest lines of credit through the organization’s Enterprise Community Loan Fund and $250,000 in grants for green building and retrofit activities through the Enterprise Green Communities initiative. Additionally, $725,000 is being made available with the assistance of the California Community Foundation, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, JPMorgan Chase, the federal government and other entities. “Many foundations and banks have supported our efforts,” Schaffer says, but concedes that such is frequently not the case for others.
Enterprise’s funds are being distributed to builders of low-income housing specifically. “When the economy was good, developers built a lot of market-rate housing, and we were making headway with very low-income housing, but with housing in between–low income or workforce housing–we weren’t doing very well,” he notes. “According to government figures, people should have to use only 30 percent of their income for housing, but some spend 100 percent, like those in SRO housing who are then relegated to relying on food banks for groceries.”
While the economy is improving, the increase in demand for low-income housing induced by the recession will not slow down, Schaffer says, but the availability of financing will. “At the federal level, stimulus funds brought some release, but the next federal budget will present challenges, as will the budgets at the state and local level. The City of Los Angeles has been making good progress, but it will be difficult to sustain the level of financing that we had a couple of years ago. Essentially, the federal, state and city resources will all be impacted.”