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Without redevelopment, Glendale's affordable housing run faces hurdles

June 12, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
(Times Community…)

The daily phone calls at City Hall from people seeking affordable housing options are a constant reminder of how demand continues to outstrip supply. And with the demise of local redevelopment, officials warn there’s little chance of the trend reversing any time soon.

“We hear these people and their situations on a daily basis,” said Peter Zovak, Glendale’s deputy housing director. “We know it continues to be difficult.”

For every new project, there are thousands of interested applicants. The wait list for a federally funded rental subsidy has been closed since 2001.

And now with one of the main sources of funding for affordable housing — redevelopment — gone and others continually on the decline, the future looks bleak.

“The future of affordable housing becomes more problematic, as what was always a challenging endeavor has now become even more difficult,” Zovak said in an email. “We will be producing less affordable housing in Glendale and California, yet the need continues to rise.”

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The first affordable housing unit in Glendale was developed in 1978, but the stock didn’t see a huge boost until two decades ago. In the 1990s and 2000s, roughly 600 affordable units were built in Glendale — about twice as much as in the 1970s and 1980s combined, according to city records.

And since 2010 alone, about 200 units — or two thirds of all affordable housing developed in the 10 years prior — have been built.

Zovak attributes the uptick to an injection of federal and state funding in the past, but those sources are drying up.

Gov. Jerry Brown called for the dissolution of redevelopment, which used incrementally higher property taxes, in order to send billions of dollars to Sacramento to close a budget gap. Redevelopment money, 20% of which went to affordable housing, would instead cover the cost of schools and public safety.

Redevelopment generated about $9 million a year for affordable housing in Glendale, Zovak said.

While several redevelopment projects are in the works — such as two home-ownership developments for moderate- and low-income families and two veteran-preferred rental properties — others have been shuttered.

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