Culver City Observer -

Chamber Blasts City Council

City Turns Its Back on Real Affordable Housing Solutions

 

The Culver City Chamber of Commerce has released the following statement on the City Council's action extending the public assistance housing program.

Two weeks ago the Culver City Council voted to start funding, with $1.2 million from the city's General Fund, a unique 25-year-old housing voucher program that had been funded by the Culver City Redevelopment Agency before that agency was dissolved by state order.

In most cases, this program has proven to be costly and has not returned the benefits touted by some. While this program was designed to assist qualified recipients by providing housing vouchers for up to five years as a transitional support safety net, the city's own analysis of the program shows that some recipients have been taking advantage of the rental assistance program for nearly 15 years.

Rather than correct the problem, the City Council has now compounded the problem by making the horrendously dangerous decision to spend one-time General Fund Reserve monies on an on-going rental assistance program. It is clear that last century solutions do not address 21st century housing demands, and the city must not only look at new and creative ways to address the affordable housing crisis in Culver City but also look at financial decisions like this that threaten our city's economic stability.

Two weeks ago the California's Legislative Analysis Office delivered a report titled

"California's High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences," you can read it by clicking here (http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/finance/housing-costs/housing-costs.pdf).

Among the report's conclusions is that cities, especially those near the California coast, must work to create policies that facilitate the building of more homes and apartments. There are simply better ways of creating affordable housing than taking funds away from the city's reserves that are meant as a hedge in times of emergency or for critical capital improvement programs and infrastructure.

We must remember that the money this City Council is spending is money that the city did not save or receive through prudent budgeting over the years. No. It is instead spending money it received by selling city property (current assets) and changing those assets from real property into cash.

As the leading business organization in Culver City, the Culver City Chamber of Commerce supported the recent sales tax increase, something few business organizations would do. We were assured at the time that the city would do its best to seek out and take advantage of new revenue streams and not continue to rely on reserves and new taxes to fund essential city services and programs like the rental assistance program. One of the stipulations of passing Measure Y (the sales tax increase) was that the city establish the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) to help monitor how the Measure Y funds would be spent.

That has turned out to be quite a disingenuous effort at public oversight because, despite an 8-0 vote, with one abstention, the FAC recommended against the continuation of funding for the Rental Assistance Program. By funding this on-going program with reserve funds, the City Council ignored its fiscal responsibility and obligation to the city at large.

If the City Council continues its reckless spending without generating new revenue streams it won't be long before the city will be forced to sell city hall, police and fire stations, our beloved parks or lease out public streets to pay for housing vouchers and other pet programs.

We encourage the city to step up to the plate and undertake a complete and thorough analysis of the waste occurring in programs like the rental assistance program, where $500,000 of the program's $1.2 million cost goes to administration. We also encourage the city to explore new and more effective ways of making a real dent in the affordable housing shortage. Finally, we encourage the city to make a real effort to develop public-private partnerships and explore untapped revenue streams that will allow our city to continue to maintain essential city services and pay for important social programs.

 

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