In late May, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Eunisses Hernandez, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson introduced a motion to build the City’s capacity to establish a large-scale social housing program in LA. The motion instructs the LA Housing Department to identify financing tools that would support the implementation of permanent affordability and resident governance in social housing in LA and to identify ways for low-income households to participate in social housing ownership in LA. The motion points to funding from Measure United to House LA (ULA), which funds multiple programs, including alternative models for permanent affordability, acquisition and rehabilitation, and capacity building, as an opportunity to explore such elements of social housing further.

This momentum dovetails with a report released by the Global Housing Policy Leadership Academy, Social Housing in Vienna: Reflections from Los Angeles Housing Leaders, which tells the story of the immersive 2023 Vienna Social Housing Field Study undertaken by housing leaders from the City and County of LA. The report provides collective reflections and lessons learned from the group while visiting Vienna and learning about their housing system to inform local systems change efforts in the region and beyond.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Produce Housing for All
    • Create strong institutions and reliable processes
    • Ensure permanent funding and simplify the capital stack
    • Use public land and social housing zoning
  • Preserve Vulnerable Housing
    • Maintain existing housing stock
  • Protect Tenants and Prevent Displacement
    • Support tenants
  • Promote Equity, Inclusion, and Sustainability
    • Create mixed-income communities
    • Promote alternative housing models
    • Create a new housing narrative

The work in LA promises to further explore how the Vienna model can best be adapted to the US, alongside attempts in other jurisdictions such as New York and Seattle.  The LeSar Portfolio of Firms continues to inform and advise clients on how best to adapt these various models to successfully address the housing and homelessness crises.

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About the Author

Anu Natajaran
Anu Natarajan is an urban planner and designer with a unique perspective that has been defined by work experience in housing, land use planning, and development in the private, consulting, public, non-profit, and political sectors. She leads the Global Policy Leadership Academy's Vienna Social Housing Field Study program, grew up in Bangalore and graduated from Architecture School, and earned her Masters’s Degree in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, Seattle. Biography | Email

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