Joseph Mailander talks Affordable Housing


After running a throwback Thursday interview with Joseph F. Mailander, 2 Urban Girls received multiple inquiries to pick his brain on several hot button topics in the City of Los Angeles.  In this three-part series, Mailander shares his opinion on affordable housing.

We have had affordable housing programs for over thirty years, and yet housing is less affordable than ever–so that shows you exactly how effective those programs are. The problem isn’t that the market is imperfect–it’s that attempting to tinker with it just makes it even worse.
One example is Habitat for Humanity. Does anyone stop to think what happens when it actually works? It makes the neighborhood better. And when neighborhoods get better, property gets more expensive. So it just ends up creating a lottery for the poor: a handful of winners and many losers.

There’s also something far worse, called “permanent supportive housing.” This has been a failure nearly everywhere, but politicians keep touting statistics suggesting it saves money. Check those reports carefully.  They never include the cost of the development itself. And they also never tell you that they’re only looking for a certain kind of homeless person: one with a big government-provided income stream, like a Veteran or a disabled person.  These people already qualify for Section 8 vouchers–we don’t have to build anything for them at all. But when we build a Supermax styled complex for them, investors actually get to make money off of them, through investing in bonds that are paid back by their income streams.

A kind of affordable housing I do support is called workforce housing. In workforce housing, we build complexes for groups like teachers, and invite them to rent at not much of a mark up. They end up paying back the cost of the development and also get to enrich the community by staying close to the place they work. That’s the kind of affordable housing we should build: the kind that gives something back to the community.

Tomorrow, Mailander shares his thoughts on Promise Zone funding that Los Angeles has missed out on, twice, in less than two years.

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About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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