Metro releases paper on updating affordable housing policy in response to area’s housing crisis

Metro’s Joint Development team is in the process of updating the agency’s affordable housing policy. The program allows Metro to collaborate with qualified developers to build transit-oriented developments on Metro-owned properties — usually parcels left over from construction of transit projects. 

As part of the policy update, the J.D. team has released a Joint Development Affordable Housing Policy Paper which was discussed in the Metro Board’s Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 20. You can watch a video of the meeting here. 

In 2015, the Metro Board adopted a policy of aiming to make 35 percent of all units affordable in Metro Joint Developments. With the housing crisis in our region having worsened since then, Metro is looking to update its policies to maximize the number of affordable units in Metro’s future developments.  

There are currently 16 developments in the planning stages along several rail lines including the future Crenshaw/LAX Line, the L Line (Gold) in Boyle Heights and the B Line (Red) in North Hollywood, and around 50 additional sites that will come online with the buildout of M. The new policy will apply to the additional sites that are not yet in negotiation. The Joint Development home page is here. 

The new policy paper offers a collection of tools that could potentially be incorporated  in the updated JD Policy. Two of the key objectives of the policy would be to deliver housing using an AFFORDABLE FIRST philosophy to make more housing available to more low-income households and MAXIMIZE the  benefit from the JD portfolio.   

  • Pursue all JD sites first as 100 percent income-restricted. 
  • Define “affordable” to include up to 80 percent of the County’s Area Median Income (AMI) and “moderate” as 80 percent to 120 percent of the AMI.  
  • Use “neighborhood AMI” to inform affordability targets for each project. 
  • If not 100 percent income-restricted, provide at least 25 percent of new units at 80 percent AMI or equivalent. 
  • Prioritize communities with the deepest need. 
  • Streamline process for faster project delivery. 
  • In alignment with best practices nationwide, limit parking on joint development sites to 0.5 parking spaces per bedroom to enable the development of more affordable housing 
  • Use proceeds to invest in Transit Oriented Community supportive activities such as an affordable housing trust fund, a strategic acquisition fund and a “Metro Housing Lab.”The Metro Housing Lab would partner with industry experts, builders, and communities to test innovative design, construction and financing strategies that create units faster and cheaper. 
  • Constantly measure outcomes against policy objectives to ensure we’re achieving our goals. 

JD will collect additional feedback on the Policy Paper and the potential tools it suggests. We’ll use that feedback as we finish a Joint Development Policy that will be recommended to the Board this spring. We will also be hosting a TOC Town Hall to discuss how such policies can be designed to protect and strengthen neighborhoods that will “host” new stations. 

Stay tuned for more information and opportunities for input!  




2 replies

  1. “Streamline process for faster project delivery.”

    Just do this one. Everything else is more bureaucracy and fees/taxes. They need to reduce regulations, fees, and taxes to make it easy to add units to the housing and rental stock. They don’t need to reduce mandates for parking. They need to entirely remove it.

    They should know apartment affordability is precisely aligned with square footage and location. If the want more affordability, let developers build smaller apartments. They can’t tell a property owner to rent an apartment unit at low income levels without increasing the rents of the remaining units. It’s unfair to middle income people especially if the quality of life is lowered by the lower income people. The middle income people will have less disposal income to spend on themselves.

    The Robin Hood mentality can’t continue as policy in Los Angeles County and everywhere else in California. It’s a distorted financing scheme that reduces housing for everyone.