More Than 4,000 People Applied to WeHo’s Affordable Housing Wait List

More than 4,145 people responded to the City of West Hollywood’s outreach in November to those interested in joining a list for consideration for affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

The wait list currently has 2,117 individuals or families on it, with only 13 vacancies in the city’s inclusionary rental housing program. Five of those are new apartments and the other eight are previously rented units available for new tenants. However, a number of other units are under construction or part of plans under review.

Peter Noonan, the city’s Rent Stabilization and Housing manager, said that this Spring the city will a conduct a “lottery” to rank the names of the new people on the list.  A certain number of those, as yet unspecified, will be added to the current waitlist.

Of those currently on the list, 1,664 are lower-income families or individuals and 453 are moderate income.  Lower-income is defined as having an income 80% or less of the area median income, which ranges from $66,198 for a household of one person to $76,790 for a three-person household. Moderate income individuals or families are those with a household income of 80% to 100% of the area median income. 

According to the city’s 2019 Affordable Housing Report, a  quarter of the city’s residents (5,707) live on very low incomes and 16% (3,613) are designated as low incomes. While a total of 40% of West Hollywood residents live on low to very low incomes, 17% (3,899) are at the moderate-income level. Those with above-moderate incomes constitute 43% of the population (9,826 people).

West Hollywood renters have some protection afforded by the city’s rent stabilization law, which limits annual rent increases to 75% of the increase in the Consumer Price Index.  However, that limit applies only to buildings constructed before July 2, 1979.  When a tenant leaves one of those buildings, the landlord can increase the rent to the market rate. The city’s 2019 Community Study reports that 32% of residents have lived in the same housing units for 10 years or more. However, 41% have moved into a new home in the past three years., making increases to market rates quite common.

The City of West Hollywood and other California cities are facing pressure from state legislators and housing advocates to take steps to encourage the development of more housing of all types, which would have a significant impact on the state’s housing crisis. While politicians and local residents dispute the positive impact  of more housing, economic studies show that when more housing units are available than needed, the price of housing stabilizes or falls. Under pressure from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, the Southern California Association of Governments has proposed that West Hollywood build 3,970 new housing units over the next ten years to meet its housing needs, a number the City Council opposes. That proposal is part of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), which is state-required study every eight years that determines how much housing local communities should build.

In the past, some of West Hollywood ‘s elected officials have bragged that the city is one of the few in the SCAG district that meets its RHNA goals.  However, those goals have been extremely low. In the current RHNA cycle, running 2014 to 2021, West Hollywood is required to build just 77 new units, however it has already issued building permits for 2,259 units.

Those units are not all for low-income residents. The city requires developers of projects of 10 or more housing units to dedicate 20% of them to housing lower-income people.  However, developers also have the option of contributing to an “in lieu” fund. The city can use money in that fund to subsidize the construction of affordable housing by non-profit organizations like the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp.

The City Council also is likely at its next meeting to reiterate its opposition to SB50, legislation brought forth by state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco that would require cities to permit higher density housing near major transit hubs.  Wiener’s bill failed to make it out of committee in last year’s legislative session and the deadline for it to be submitted to the legislature for a full vote this year is the end of this month.  He has made substantial changes in the bill in an effort to accommodate those who have argued that it would lead to gentrification of neighborhoods and eviction of existing tenants. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said “the housing study shows that 50% of West Hollywood households move each year, making increases to market rates quite common.” In fact, census information shows that 50% of Los Angeles County residents move every five years. The City of West Hollywood’s 2019 Community Study reports that 32% of residents have lived in the same housing units for 10 years or more, and 41% have moved into a new home in the past three years. The story has been undated to reflect that.


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Ham Shipey
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Ham Shipey

should move to an area you can afford.

Stop the Madness
Guest
Stop the Madness

100%

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

Because that’s what civilized communities throughout history have shown works?

Stop the Madness
Guest
Stop the Madness

I truly am baffled as to why our city thinks we need to provide for affordable housing. Because it makes us feel better? Because there are no alternate towns available in Los Angeles? Thisis a battle cry that is utter nonsense and no developer in their right mind wants to build affordable housing. It’s not economically smart for them to do so. You cannot make them build at a loss and who would want to do so??? Our real estate is expensive due to the attractiveness of our town and that no new dirt is being created…land supply is fixed.… Read more »

Josh Kurpies
Guest
Josh Kurpies

baffled = extremely confused or puzzled (Merriam-Webster) What could one find so baffling about ensuring we have a diversity of housing types for a diversity of income levels? You are aware that West Hollywood is a community that cares about each other , right? Mission Statement As a premiere city, we are proactive in responding to the unique needs of our diverse community, creative in finding solutions to managing our urban environment, and dedicated to preserving and enhancing its well being. We strive for quality in all our actions, setting the highest goals and standards.” Core Values Respect and Support… Read more »

Sam Borelli
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Sam Borelli

Thank you, Josh. Not to mention rent control and affordable housing are the foundation on which this city was formed.

Long term resident
Guest
Long term resident

If those are the values of our founding We have failed miserably. Look around. Look at Duran on council. It’s a disgrace. Your a supporter I believe and both Mr. Kurpes and Mr. Borelli make their incomes off the taxpayer or the West Hollywood housing Corp. Why don’t you guys get a job in the private sector, buy a home or condo in Weho and then brag about the affordable housing unit next to your new digs.

jimmy palmieri
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jimmy palmieri

What josh said, because if I say what I want to say, I’ll be banned from wehoville.

Cool Guy 420
Guest
Cool Guy 420

We need affordable housing because people need places to live. Sorry you disagree! 🙁

Observer
Guest
Observer

It is a battle cry !

Eric Jon Schmidt
Guest

I believe there should be an independent oversight committee to carefully watch the “lottery” for affordable housing. There have been concerns in the past (conveyed to me) that affordable housing is given to people who were not in the “lottery”. Whether that is true or not, Noonan should not object to oversight. A complete and transparent observation by an oversight committee and a report of the “lottery” procedure would put to rest the ideas that people who do not qualify are awarded the apartments. If he objects, (in my opinion), there is cause to believe that the “lottery” process is… Read more »

Vigilant
Guest
Vigilant

The city has successfully created a phantom.
Aside from all the housing gymnastics explained by Peter Noonan, and the chorus of parrots singing for affordable housing, the genuine commitment to affordable housing was never believable.

Jonathan Simmons
Guest
Jonathan Simmons

Sounds like I’ve really got a chance. I’m packing my bags immediately.

Joshua88
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Joshua88

Very interesting. 50% of people move. Not enough affordable housing – no kidding. And one thing needed: stop allowing developers to contribute to the fund. Make them build affordable units. It’s (RE) a cash business and a large racket. If you have doubts, looks at the Trump Crime Syndicate.

Observer
Guest
Observer

Yes, developers MUST include affordable housing in every project. No more in lieu fees !!