Review of the City’s Density Bonus Program and Overall Oversight

How do we create more affordable housing in Los Angeles? That is one of the most fundamental questions our City faces as it seeks to achieve a lofty goal of having 100,000 new units built by 2021, of which 15,000 would, hopefully, be deemed affordable.

The City has a number of policies and programs that aim to help the City achieve its goal — among them our density bonus program, which is a tool used to incentivize developers to include very low, low, and moderate income housing units in their new developments. The program offers density bonuses and other incentives, such as reduced parking requirements, in exchange for a certain percentage of on-site affordable housing. Landlords utilizing the program enter into covenants recorded against title to the property that restrict the rent on the units for 55 years.

But, just how effective has the density bonus program overseen by the City’s Housing and Community Investment Dept. (HCID) been in achieving the construction of new income-restricted affordable units — particularly in buildings with primarily market rate housing? How many income-restricted units were created through the program in affordable housing projects? And, how effective has the City been in monitoring and overseeing income-restricted units generally across the City?

To answer these questions, my office is today releasing an audit entitled: Income-Restricted Affordable Housing Units in Los Angeles: A Review of the City’s Density Bonus Program and Overall Oversight.