The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday revised its $150 million spending plan for programs funded through Measure ULA, the so-called “mansion tax,” bolstering its short-term rental assistance program.
The council voted 12-0 to increase its Short-Term Emergency Assistance Program from $18.4 million to $30.4 million. The council also modified certain guidelines around its Multifamily Affordable Housing Accelerator Plus and Protections from Tenant Harassment programs.
Council members Paul Krekorian and Curren Price recused themselves from the vote, citing potential conflicts of interest, because they are landlords. Councilman Tim McOsker was absent during the vote.
“We must continue to do all that we can to prevent Angelenos from falling into homelessness, which means supporting our tenants, small landlords and housing providers,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement Tuesday.
Bass also thanked “the City Council and the Citizens Oversight Committee for their work in approving the additional funding which will provide much needed rental relief to Angelenos living in our city and know that we will continue to do all we can to ensure that a wave of evictions does not hit our city as we continue confronting the homelessness crisis.”
The Short-term Emergency Assistance program prioritizes lower-income households, seniors and people with disabilities. It’s available for both tenants, small landlords and small housing providers for up to six months of back rent resulting from a one-time economic hardship, such as the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the United to House LA fiscal year 2023-24 spending plan, the revisions are minor, with the following allocations:
— $56.8 million for Multifamily Affordable Housing Accelerator Plus;
— $30.4 million for Short-Term Rental Assistance;
— $11 million for Los Angeles Housing Services Authority’s Time- Limited Subsidy program focused assisting seniors and persons with disabilities;
— $23 million for Eviction Defense/Prevention;
— $5.5 million for Tenant Outreach and Education;
— $11.2 million for Protections from Tenant Harassment; and
— $12 million for costs related to administration such as staff, tenant council, grants and contracts.
Greg Good, senior advisor to the Los Angeles Housing Department, provided an update on the city’s progress on Measure ULA, and plans moving forward. He noted the increase of $12 million for Short-Term Rental Assistance came from a previous proposal to spend $23 million for Time-Limited Subsidy program.
However, due to issues with staffing and the program not being fully developed, the Housing Department recommended using $12 million for Short-Term Rental Assistance and the remaining $11 million to remain for Time-Limited Subsidy program .
The council approved the $12 million on the condition that those funds would prioritize seniors and people with disabilities in the 30% area median income or below income range.
In addition, Good said the Housing Department anticipates about 700 units being produced as a result of the accelerator program. The Multifamily Affordable Housing Accelerator Plus program is a funding effort intended to streamline the production of housing either in or about to start construction that have stalled due to financing gaps.
“In addition to getting these much-needed dollars out the door quickly to support Angelenos in need, I am also pleased with the approval of $56 million under the Multi-family Affordable Housing Accelerator Plus program, which will ensure ULA dollars are being used for union-built housing construction as soon as possible,” Councilwoman Nithya Raman, chair of the Housing and Homeless Committee, said in a statement.
The Housing Department also outlined how it would use the $11.2 million to support Protections from Tenant Harassment program to enforce the city’s Tenant Anti-Harassment Ordinance, also known as TAHO.
According to Good, the spending plan will fund four key components to bolster TAHO, including developing a platform to track and monitor patterns of “bad actor” landlords and related complaints; help contract with community- based organizations to educate tenants and landlords on their rights and obligations; hire housing inspectors and investigators; and contract with non- profit legal aid partners to help with eviction defense.
Overall, the $150 million spending plan is funded by Measure ULA, known as United to House L.A., which imposes an additional tax on the sale of any real property on or after April 1, 2023, within Los Angeles when the consideration or value of the property exceed $5 million.
Measure ULA passed with 57% support during the Nov. 8 election, and it taxes sales of homes above $5 million at 4%, and homes above $10 million at 5.5%.
The funds raised by the tax are earmarked for programs to increase affordable housing in the city and prevent homelessness.
“We’ve collected approximately $100 million in ULA revenue on 175 transactions since April 1, far short of what is expected on an annual basis,” Good said.
Since enacted, the city has faced multiple lawsuits challenging the legality of the measure.
However, on Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara M. Scheper dismissed lawsuits filed against the city by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and Newcastle Courtyards.
According to Good, the city should expect appeals. He also noted a pending ballot measure that could nullify the city’s ULA — the “Taxpayer Protection Act,” spearheaded by Kilroy Realty, calls for a referendum on local special tax increases.
Regardless of the challenges in court, city leaders front-funded $150 million for programs under Measure ULA to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
Good highlighted that these guidelines and programs were created on an interim-basis in light of the legal challenges, but once cases are cleared, departments will plan to roll out a permanent plan.
Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who represents the 13th District, including portions of Hollywood, said Measure ULA is “absolutely critical.” He cited that in his district there’s been more than 7,000 eviction filing, which the councilman called “heartbreaking.”
“To put that in perspective, if you combine the four lowest eviction filings by district, we have more than four districts combined,” Soto-Martinez said. “We know that 60% of folks that become homelessness for the first time is because they can’t pay rent, and they can’t stay in their houses.”
He added, “I feel like this is going to magnify a lot of the work that we’re doing and forever, right. Voters approved it. The law is on our side, and so I think we’re all moving in the right direction.”