Mayor's seven-year plan: build 100,000 new housing units

Article Originally Published in L.A. Biz

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday announced plans to build 100,000 new housing units by 2021.

They mayor said in a speech at the Mayoral Housing, Transportation & Jobs summit that the housing shortage -- possibly the worst in more than half a century -- is connected to a low minimum wage and an array of other citywide economic issues, according to the Los Angeles Times

"The fact remains that even with dramatic increases in market-rate and affordable housing, L.A. will continue to be an expensive city in which to live," Garcetti said at the event, which was hosted by advocacy group Los Angeles Business Council at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Garcetti has proposed raising the minimum wage in the city to $13.25 an hour by 2017 and then indexing future increases to inflation. He has also coordinated the proposal with neighboring cities such as Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Long Beach and Pasadena.

The mayor noted that 567,000 Angelenos are considered minimum-wage workers. There are enough residents living below the federal poverty line, he said, as to constitute one of the ten largest cities in the nation.

"We cannot afford the poverty rate we have in this town," he said.

The increased minimum wage proposal is not without controversy. Some business owners claim that paying living wages to their workers would negatively impact profits. And, yeah, it will probably do that.

"I would never claim that with [$13.25] there aren't going to be any losers, but there are more net winners for sure," Garcetti pointed out.

And with wage disparities at an 85-year high, maybe sharing some of the wealth is a little bit overdue. And even if it's not enough money to buy one of the new houses, it might at least be enough to keep our fellow citizens off the streets.