Senate Bill 679, authored by Senator Sydney Kamlager and supported by nearly 100 organizations including local cities, community organizations, and housing experts, will create the first-ever independent countywide housing and homelessness prevention agency that unites 88 cities and unincorporated communities to create affordable housing, prevent homelessness and support thousands of working families burdened by steep rent spikes 

Los Angeles—The Our Future Los Angeles (OFLA) coalition hailed the signing by Governor Gavin Newsom of Senate Bill 679, establishing the Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency (LACAHSA), an independent countywide housing solutions agency that can raise its own public and private revenue to fund systemic solutions to Los Angeles’s current affordable housing crisis. The passage of the legislation marks the first-ever regional approach to addressing housing stability in the history of L.A. County.

“As the end of the month draws near, far too many L.A. County residents don’t know how they will stay in their homes, but one answer just came a lot closer” said Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles, who was a lead supporter of the proposal. “Governor Newsom’s action today will reverberate through hundreds of thousands of lives by making the construction of badly needed affordable housing options in Los Angeles County faster, less expensive, and more abundant.”

LACAHSA, as the Agency is known, will make it possible to transform the current patchwork housing system, which leaves 88 cities across the county to deal with affordability problems on their own, into a coordinated countywide strategy that allows all of Los Angeles County to join forces to address homelessness in an innovative way.

“With LACAHSA we know that we can do so much more,” said Tania Medina, a Baldwin Park resident and member of LA Voice, a multi-racial, multi-faith community organization. “The current housing system in place hasn’t done enough to support working families across this region. It hasn’t worked to create housing for low income people, end homelessness, or increase homeownership.”

Zeke Sandoval, Public Policy Manager at People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) said PATH is a supporter of SB 679 because it creates a powerful new tool to produce affordable housing at the necessary scale. “Homes end homelessness. The affordable homes LACAHSA will build will be a refuge for county residents journeying out of homelessness, and for the millions of housed county residents on the brink of losing their homes,” Sandoval said.

“No one resident, community organization, city or municipality on their own has the single solution to turn around generations of neglect to our affordable housing supply,”  said Derek Steele, Executive Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute. “It’s going to take all of us to develop the solutions so people can not only survive this crisis but thrive on the other side of it.”

A recent analysis of housing burden in L.A. County by the Gender Equity Policy Institute found these striking statistics, underscoring the need for more to be done to support low income people across L.A. County:

  • 36% of elderly Latinas living alone have income below the federal poverty line, which is $12,880 for a single adult

  • 1 in 3 Black women renters spend more than half their income on housing

  • Women-led households are 4 times as likely as households headed by a married couple to have extremely low income

In its form and intent, LACAHSA resembles the transportation agency Metro. Once set up through the passage of SB 679, it will allow every city in Los Angeles County to increase efforts to create affordable housing for low income people—and help people at risk of homelessness keep their homes. It will begin operations in the spring of 2023.