Los Angeles Wants to Use Housing Money to Boost MLS Soccer Stadium

Critics say the HUD program is meant to fund more direct anti-poverty measures, like affordable housing—not office, retail, and attractions.
September 1, 2016, 12pm PDT | Elana Eden
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A rendering of the proposed Banc of California Stadium.
Los Angeles Football Club

Los Angeles city council recently voted to ask HUD for a loan of $22.5 million to fund commercial development around the MLS soccer stadium, slated to open in Exposition Park in 2018. Johnny Magdaleno explains in NextCity:

Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 108 program, cities can qualify for low-interest loans to fill small funding gaps for development projects if these projects promise to give up to 51 percent of the jobs they create to low-income populations, and act as an economic boon for surrounding communities. The average loan amount is $4.9 million, and cities usually get between 10 and 20 years to pay them off.

Typically, the funds are awarded for community revitalization and anti-poverty projects. Even considering job creation, critics argue that construction of a sports museum, culinary academy, and conference center, among other things, would not be a faithful application of the program.

"When it comes to massive projects like a stadium, the long-term economic impacts on nearby communities are usually neutral or slightly negative," Magdaleno notes. And if anti-poverty funds get "eaten up" by a bad project, "it’s a double blow to the disadvantaged citizens these federal programs were crafted for."

He adds:

At the same time it’s giving out resources to commercial and industrial projects, HUD continues to slash funding for its affordable housing initiatives, and as of 2015 federal spending on housing assistance was $2.9 billion under what it was in 2004. That’s despite the fact that the number of families with access to rental assistance is at its lowest point in a decade, while demand is on the rise.

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Published on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 in NextCity
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