Historically Diverse Citywide Coalition Unites and Speaks Out to Stop the Housing Ban

Homeless providers, affordable housing developers join business and labor groups in the broadest coalition in the history of Los Angeles to defeat the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, a housing ban on the March 2017 ballot 

Standing in a Lincoln Heights parking lot that could someday help end chronic homeless in Los Angeles, a citywide coalition of civic and community leaders, homelessness service providers and affordable housing developers, business and labor leaders and environmentalists issued a warning about the importance of defeating the “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative”, a building moratorium placed on the March 2017 Los Angeles city ballot which would serve as a two-year ban on badly needed housing development, throwing thousands of Angelenos out of work and put more living on the street.  

This housing ban would set us back and drive rents up,” said Councilmember Gil Cedillo, whose 1st District includes Lincoln Heights. “That would make homelessness worse. It would hurt our economy by eliminating construction jobs. That would make homelessness worse. Everyone is invited to the table to figure out how we can protect our neighborhoods, lower rents, create jobs and end homelessness—but to do that, we need to defeat this bad idea at the ballot.”

“The backers of this housing ban are trying to fool the public into thinking they are only going after a few quote-on-quote ‘mega-developments.’ Despite its so-called ‘affordable housing exemption,’ this moratorium would make it impossible to build 100% affordable housing on 11 out of 12 city opportunity sites,” said Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Don’t let the authors of this measure pull the wool over your eyes. This initiative would cripple our city’s ability to build the housing we need to end homelessness for veterans, families and the chronically homeless.” 

“We are trying to find creative solutions to end homelessness, but this housing ban would shut many of them down,” said Chris Ko of United Way’s Home for Good initiative. “Eleven out of 12 sites chosen by the city to develop housing for the homeless would be eliminated outright by the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. They claim to have an affordable housing exemption, but it's misleading and doesn't hold up in actual use." 

The twelve sites, know as the Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites (city report available at https://cl.ly/hi63) are city-owned property that have been proposed for development into permanent supportive housing or other affordable housing solutions. The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative grants a so-called “100% affordable housing exemption,” drastically limiting the kinds of affordable housing solutions available, yet that exemption does not apply to sites requiring General Plan Amendments (GPAs)—and all but one of the Opportunity Sites requires a GPA.

“UNITE HERE doesn’t often see eye to eye with the Chamber of Commerce,” said Rachel Torres, Senior Research Analyst of UNITE HERE Local 11. “But we agree that our city needs to unite to defeat this housing ban. This is anti-worker, anti-renter policy. We need development reform that drives down rents and helps end homelessness.” 

"The Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is fatally short-sighted,” said Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve. “It does not offer any solution to Los Angeles' land use stresses, but rather makes suburban sprawl and car dependence the only option for future development in the region. If the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative succeeds, our future is one of increased congestion, long commutes, and increases in greenhouse gas emissions. We can and must do better than that."

“This initiative would still leave Los Angeles gasping for air as we drown in unaffordability,” said Jerry Jones, Director of Policy at the Inner City Law Center. “We need more market rate housing, more workforce housing, more 100% affordable housing in sites that this bans. We need to update our community plans, but we can’t shut down housing while we’re waiting.”

“The backers of this initiative don’t speak for the stakeholders who serve on the neighborhood councils,” said Carol Newman, Secretary of the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council.  “People are saying Stop the Housing Ban from West Los Angeles to Downtown LA, from El Sereno to San Pedro.  This policy won’t stop development.  It will stop smart growth and lead to dumb growth.  Cities change.  People are born here and move here because it’s a great place to live.  The economy grows.  We can and should have a city that works for the people who live here.”

“Nearly a third of Angeleno renters pay more than half our income in rent,” said Father Richard Estrada of Jovenes, Inc. “They live one financial hardship -- one car repair -- away from losing the home they have. We don’t move forward by slamming the door. We move forward by making sure everyone has a place to call home.” 

By enacting a two-year building moratorium that could last as long as ten years as planning documents are updated, the NII would severely limit Los Angeles’s ability to climb out of its devastating housing and homelessness crisis. It would trap development in the plans of thirty years ago, cost thousands of construction jobs, prevent the city from linking housing and jobs to transit, and worsen sprawl and traffic.

Los Angeles is the least affordable rental market in the country. Angelenos are heavily rent-burdened, with 270,000 renters paying more than half their income in rent. With vacancy rates at an unhealthy low of 2.7% and estimates that Los Angeles must add more than 500,000 affordable units to meet demand, responses such as the NII have been criticized far and wide, earning special mention in the Obama Administration’s Housing Toolkit. 

Polls show weak support for the initiative, with support hovering at 37% and opposition at 44%. And after discussing the specific impacts that the NII would have, nearly two-thirds (65%) are extremely or very concerned about its impact on attempts to address homelessness. 

For more on the Stop the Housing Ban/No on the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative campaign, including its growing list of endorsers, please visit http://goestoofar.com.