Affordable housing for who

As told to the Los Angeles City government August 2019.

 Communications with city employees

Denial of housing services

* The intercom system unit 9 and outside the building is unusable. The intercom needs repair * Unit 9 tenants are still being denied a tandem parking stall
* The back interior stairs remain unstable and need repair as they are dangerous wobble when walking on them

March 18, 2019

Small single family homes on large lots have to go: the master plan

(Above pictures 5595 Saturn Street under construction)

Commentary by G Juan Johnson – Candidate 2020 Council District 10

Los Angeles- Across California, especially in the urban areas, the plan is to make less and less housing for the lower income and more and more housing for the high income. The middle and low income earners must be relegated to the “suburbs”. Like in the days of King Arthur. The poor will be relegated to serfdom like in the Early Middle Ages.

“…single family homes on large lots will be replaced with high rent, high density buildings…”

This is a positive for the landowners and stockholders. But a negative for the middle class and low income. The change in zoning laws all across California can be seen by visiting the city hall Zoning department. The “planned neighborhoods”  are only for the high income. The fight to turn this around must come from the single family homeowners as well as tenants. How will single family homeowners protect their investment?

“…who will be excluded from Housing…”

I am in favor of housing and new development if done in a manner fair to all economic levels, developments that provide housing for all, not just the privileged few. For example, say hypothetically Los Angeles is 60% middle and low income and 40% high income. Then would it be fair that 60% of new housing should be for middle and low income and 40% for high income? Of course that is not the master plan.

“…Average home mortgage payment $8586…”

This article is about a development at 5955 Saturn Street in Los Angeles. Of particular interest is the embedded 82 page PDF article about housing specifications. That PDF is a great place to go to get an overall picture in one site about the workings of real estate. I will point out pages of particular interest in trying to grasp the housing picture, as to me this development also is indicative of what is happening across many neighborhoods.

“…58% of housing is renter occupied…”

Here is how to get to the link: Google “5955 Saturn St Los Angeles for Sale 90035.” Site by Loopnet or CBRE Loopnet. After browsing the page, around the middle of the page you want to click on the PDF link. I will summarize some parts of the 82 page PDF.

  1. I witnessed this being built. At one point the drywalls were trashed outside, so I think the owner changed their mind a few times as to usage: apartments or condos? I see now that if the building was all one bedrooms, then the walls were torn out to make 2 and 3 bedrooms. Single apartments are probably a matter of history and new developments will probably not have singles because of the occupancy limits, profit potential, etc. This building of 29 units, only has 1 one-bedroom, and one 2 BD – One Bath.  If two out of 29 are “affordable”, as the article says, then that gives you the ratio for the future of housing in Los Angeles. (affordable rents for two units are given as $745.00 and $828.00). Not sure how long these “affordable units” must stay “affordable” (sometimes it is 40 years); tenants in such units are usually subject to verification of yearly income, so these units end up being for seniors, or mentally or physically challenged persons, whose income is not likely to change, so these units would not be ideal for young or other people whose income is likely to increase.
  2. Just think of your own neighborhood and how single family homes on large lots will be replaced with mega mansions or high rent, high density buildings like this one, and you get the picture.
  3. Chapters (in the PDF) include the opportunity, the property, the location, comparable properties, financial analysis, and Los Angeles market area.
  4. Fifteen two bedroom and 2 Bath and 12 Three bedroom and Two Bath. That is the future of LA. Can you figure from this who will be excluded from Housing?
  5. Floor plans for each of four floors
  6. Within 3 miles: population 351,000; renter occupied units 65%; median household income $68,000; unemployment rate 4.6%.
  7. Suggested rents are $2592 for the 575 SF one bedroom; $3254 for the smaller 2 bedroom and 1 bath.
  8. The place is described as an “unpriced and fully vacant new construction opportunity”.
  9. Projected condo value for the one bedroom unit is $216,793. Are the days of $80,000 condos history?
  10. Repairs and maintenance are estimated at $700 per unit. (Hint: gives you an idea about your current apartment and the value of your owner  denying repairs).
  11. Utilities (individual meters) are estimated at $400 per unit (per month?)
  12. Demographics: largest city in California, 61% work in white collar positions, 32% hold bachelor degree, 58% of housing is renter occupied, median income $61,000 per year. (Minus 28% in taxes, the balance will get you rental of $1509 per month.)
  13. Industry breakdown: (salaries per year) Food prep $27,000, manufacturing $36,000; Office support $41,000; education $67,000; health care practitioners $91,000.
  14. The article (page 64) mentions “affluent LA renters have a wide selection of high-end accommodations to choose from…
  15. There are 440 million rail and bus riders annually
  16. Average home mortgage payment $8586. Effective rent $3308.
  17. You thinking of locating to Los Angeles? Come with a good paying job or bring some big money.
  18. I feel a good rule of thumb is if you move in with the income of three tenants,  base the rent you can afford on only one income. That will be a good way to save money rather than take your income right to the limit of your expenses. Always have a cash reserve for emergencies/retirement.
  19. What do YOU feel are the pros and cons of high density housing? Try the link below to calculate what rent you can afford.

 Rent Calculator by Net Income

(Editor note: As far as I know, the owner of  5955 Saturn St has no relationship to 1522 Hi Point St 90035).

Los Angeles, California

The mega rich need a place to live

Commentary – December 6, 2018

Let me just say I love my McDonald’s probably because I grew up on them. I don’t ever expect them to change their menu because I am used to the original menu items. But the other day I was thinking of doing an article on who has the cheapest breakfast and it is probably Taco Bell —among fast food places—because they have the $1.00 breakfast. You can barely still get Jack n the Box or Burger King or Carl Jr for under $5.00 the meal. But the other day I noticed I was paying almost $7.00 for the breakfast meal at McD. It finally irked me because the breakfast items have not changed to justify the $5.00 just for the sandwich. It is not like they added lettuce and tomato and then upped the price. $7.00 or $8.00 for a breakfast meal at a fast food joint just sounds crazy.

Speaking of crazy, in trying to figure out California’s apartment housing boom, I assumed that “affordable housing” means that you are making $50,000 per year income. “What does affordable housing mean? In the United States, the term affordable housing is used to describe housing, rental or owner-occupied, that is affordable no matter what one’s income is. The U.S. government regards housing costs at or below 30% of one’s income to be affordable.”  (internet article) “Generally, if you earn less than 60% of the median income for your area, you can qualify for LIHTC apartments, which makes up the largest chunk of rental apartments available. To qualify for rental subsidies, where you only pay 30% of your income for rent, you’ll need to earn less than 50% of the median income. Many of the programs go out of their way to target even lower income people, even as low as 30% of the median income, so make sure you ask the property manager what they have available.” (internet) “For example, the area median income for San Francisco in 2014 is $88,500 while the median income in Dallas is $67,900. (Internet)

At the new Vinz on Fairfax the rents range from $2800 to over $8300 per month

The reason I wonder what “affordable” means is because Los Angeles government claims a housing crises. But who is in crises and how many? Are the homeless in crises, is it the low income or the very low income, or the extremely low income? Or is it the middle class income? From the looks of the development boom — where many times there will be only one “affordable” apartment provided— in a new building where thirty or more low or moderate income tenants were displaced. So if the building boom is really not for the legions of low income, then there has to be 90% of renters that are the mega rich. I looked on the internet today for apartments and I saw rents starting at over $2,000 and nothing less. One new development Wilshire area charges $4500.00 for a one bedroom. At the new Vinz on Fairfax the rents range from $2800 to over $8300 per month.

Some articles say the median price for a house purchase across the country is about $1030 per month for a $150,000 house (which you won’t find a house for that price in Los Angeles). Compare that to a person will pay $8,000 per month for an apartment to rent or lease, not purchase.

So how much rent can you afford? If your combined income is

$50,000 income = $1,250  month rent
$80,000 income = $2,000 month rent
$150,000 income = $3,750 month rent


Welcome to Los Angeles where the gap between the rich and poor widens, by design.

McD or Starbucks, you be the Judge.