Council Recap: Affordable housing plans

Published on May 15, 2024

Council Recap monument sign

The City of Lakewood, along with dozens of other California cities, has strongly objected to the state government taking away local city control and review of new housing projects. The state insists that local governments put up roadblocks that prevent affordable housing projects from moving forward. 

Lakewood has a history of encouraging affordable housing projects when they include on-site parking and other design features that make the housing a positive addition to a neighborhood and not something that leads to the overcrowding of street parking and a decline in the quality of life for existing residents.

At their Tuesday night meeting, the Lakewood City Council approved a partnership with the well-known non-profit Habitat for Humanity to build 37 units of 2- and 3-bedroom townhouses on four vacant lots in Lakewood. Each home will have two parking spaces on site, with an additional 16 total spaces of on-site visitor parking. The homes will be built in a stylish Craftsman design. New sidewalks, landscaped parkways, curbs and gutters will also be constructed at each site. 

The city negotiated with Habitat for Humanity to have marketing for the sale of the homes targeted toward people who live or work in Lakewood, although by law, people who live anywhere can purchase the homes. Home purchases will be limited to people who earn 80% or less of the median household income for L.A. County – for a family of four that means a family income of $110,960 or less. Homes must also be owner-occupied. That contrasts with many of the state’s new housing programs which allow investors to buy single-family homes and convert them into three or four rental units of housing, without any new on-site parking for all the new people.   

“Sacramento—if you are listening, this is the kind of housing development we wish our state government was more willing to support as we all try to build more housing in California,” said City Manager Thaddeus McCormack. “It allows the city to facilitate the actual building of housing in a way that addresses the real issue of affordability, while at the same time addressing the real issues of increased traffic, pedestrian safety, scarcity of parking and architectural standards. This type of project, which will result in a positive addition to the existing neighborhood, only happens when the community is able to address these neighborhood concerns. We’re proud and excited to do our part in providing home ownership opportunities for families of modest income who will become dedicated members of the community, as opposed to indifferent, investor-developers.”

Habitat for Humanity is well-known for its nearly 50 years of success nationwide, partly because it requires the owners of the homes it builds to contribute “sweat equity” to the project, such as by helping to build the homes or become ambassadors for the project in some way. Habitat also does pre- and post-purchase training for new homeowners on the do’s and don’ts of homeownership so that new owners have the tools to succeed.

The city’s contribution to the project will be three of the four parcels, along with its staff time in overseeing the project. The city-owned parcels come with a state requirement that they only be used for affordable housing. The fourth parcel is being contributed by Habitat for Humanity. The city will also use its share of state housing improvement funds for the sidewalk, parkway and other off-site improvements.

Habitat for Humanity expects to begin construction next year, with the first homes expected to go on sale in October 2026. The city will publicize how people can apply for the home ownership opportunities as the project moves closer to sales time in 2026. 

In the meantime, for more information visit the Habitat LA website, email or call 310-323-4663, ext. 115. 

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