In just the first half of 2020, we have experienced profound changes in our daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered where we work and how we learn, how we meet our basic needs and access quality health care and testing,  and most importantly, it has demonstrated how  we all need  a home in order to shelter in place during a public health crisis. This is also a critical time to address the current movement for racial equity and the significant shifts in action and dialogue on matters affecting our community.  

The recent civil unrest brought to light the need to continue to address socio-economic justice. A call for a holistic look at how we care for the quality of life of people of color in order to improve the lives of ALL residents. This includes:

  • Access to decent, safe and affordable housing
  • Addressing displacement pressures
  • Access to opportunities including good employment, quality education, social services, and health and wellness resources 
  • Reimagining public safety
  • Access to public spaces that are welcoming and free of harassment and racist monuments/symbols
  • Ability to meaningfully participate in decision-making, including public safety 

For the Plan to House LA, the City of Los Angeles’ update to the Housing Element for 2021-2029, this means looking towards the future while acknowledging  that we have the past and present to tend to. Systemic racial and economic inequities affect current residents and those who will make this city their home in the coming years.

To meet our growing housing needs framed by the spirit of the current racial equity movement, the housing element update process requires a deeper look and a different lens.  How have programs identified and implemented during the last eight years resulted in meaningful housing access and opportunities for all residents, especially those most affected by racialized inequality. 

Most significantly, for this upcoming Housing Element cycle, local governments are required to comply with AB 686, a state law establishing that all programs and activities in a Housing Element affirmatively further fair housing. California is the only state in the nation with such a law. It defines “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” as taking meaningful actions to: 

  • Combat discrimination
  • Overcome patterns of discrimination
  • Foster inclusive communities

The law  specifies that actions must both replace segregated living patterns with integration and transform areas with racial and poverty concentration. 

This is based on the federal Fair Housing Act and a rule established during the Obama Administration that requires federal agencies and departments to establish programs to foster inclusive communities. Moreover, this applies to the Housing Element Site Selection, a process in which the City will identify sites for housing development, to help meet our Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), and ultimately increase the supply of very much needed housing in the city. 

Thanks to the State Legislature and local government representatives, the Plan to House LA will ensure the  goals of affirmatively furthering fair housing are carried out and implemented.

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–HCIDLA Policy Unit

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