Could Los Angeles Have Made Better Use of Former Redevelopment Funds?

After a state decision to abolish California's redevelopment agencies seven years ago, Los Angeles still received some of that money, directing it to city services instead of affordable housing.
April 26, 2018, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Sean Pavone

Around seven years ago, conflict engulfed California's redevelopment agencies. Critics charged them with cronyism and the state eventually decided to shut them down, ending what was originally intended as a source of funds to address blight with new affordable homes.

But while the agencies are gone, some of the funding is still there. Dakota Smith and Emily Alpert Reyes write, "Some of the funds that used to go to agencies now flow to cities, counties, special districts and schools. Los Angeles has received more than $394 million in former redevelopment dollars — also known as 'boomerang funds' — since redevelopment ended."

Under Mayor Eric Garcetti, those funds have been directed to the "day-to-day budget to help cover spending on police, firefighters and other city services, along with growing costs for retired employees." But given the continuing escalation of L.A.'s housing crisis, some are asking whether that was the right call.

Meanwhile, L.A. is taking other steps to address the shortage. "Garcetti has helped secure new sources of funding to house the poor in the last year and a half: A bond for homeless housing is bringing in more than $75 million this budget year, according to city officials. A new 'linkage fee,' which charges developers for new construction, could yield as much as $100 million annually for affordable housing after it goes into full effect next year."

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Published on Monday, April 9, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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