Bill Witte, president of Related California, oversees all multi-family and mixed-use development in California for one of the nation’s largest real estate firms. Drawing on his four decades of experience and on his time in San Francisco’s public sector, where from 1988 to 1989 he was Deputy Mayor for Housing and Neighborhoods and acting Director of the Housing Authority and from 1983 to 1988 was Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Economic Development, Witte sat down with The Planning Report to discuss Los Angeles County’s losing struggle to meet demand for affordable housing. He puts LA in the context of the State of California as a whole, commenting on the larger social and economic issues behind the disconnect between low-income residents’ needs and the housing options available to them in today’s marketplace. Housing costs not the only story. Schools, transportation, and livability make finding the appropriate housing options difficult for people in a cities, particularly for families.
Ultimately, there's only so much a city can do to directly subsidize housing against a market. Witte notes that the problem is developers not meeting the demand for housing due to a variety of reasons, saying, "Los Angeles County has a very high percentage of low and very-low-income households. You have both a supply and a demand problem. You have a relatively expensive housing market and an often lengthy and expensive approval process for new development."