Leano selected for board of new housing agency

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Claremont City Council member Jed Leano has been selected to represent the San Gabriel Valley on the board of a newly created agency tasked with building more affordable housing in Los Angeles County.

State Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) authored Senate Bill 679 last year specifically to create an umbrella agency in the county to streamline the process of constructing affordable housing. The Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency, or LACAHSA, will work to identify projects, secure funding and ultimately get the projects built.

Leano is one of four members selected to represent county sectors. He will serve with Los Angels Mayor Karen Bass, all five members of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, the mayors of Long Beach and Compton as well as select experts in the field of housing production.

His selection was due in part to his efforts to craft the bill that Senator Kamlager brought to Sacramento.

“In January 2021, I was asked by Senator Sydney Kamlager to draft SB 679,” Leano said on Thursday just after his selection was announced. “Our goal was to develop a lasting agency that could produce revenue solutions at scale matching the severity of the current housing crisis.”

Currently there are a host of local, regional and state agencies all working to address the growing housing crisis in the county. Oftentimes this results in a splintered approach when a coordinated effort may be more effective in solving what is a regional problem. Leano described LACAHSA as functioning similar to L.A. Metro, but for housing instead of transportation. The agency would have a taxing authority and the ability to prioritize projects.

“No one city can or should solve this challenge on its own,” Kamlager told LAist in August. “Los Angeles is comprised of 88 cities and the county, and all lack a clear, focused, integrated countywide approach.”

“We all say we are in a housing crisis,” Leano said. “But now, LACAHSA gives us the resources we need at the scale we need to actually treat this like the crisis it is.”

Claremont currently has just one affordable housing project ready to build, a joint effort with Tri-City Mental Health to construct 15 apartments for low income seniors. That project, on Base Line Road between Mountain and Towne avenues, was passed by the city council in 2020 but has run into some delays due to construction costs.

In January, Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted a revised project application for Larkin Place, a permanent supportive housing project that would be located on the vacant lot at 731 Harrison Avenue. Jamboree’s original application fell apart last June when the City Council denied its request for an easement across the parking lot of Larkin Park. The new project will have the same number of rooms, 33, but the driveway will now be on the property, negating the need for an easement across city-owned land.

Larkin Place will be specifically for very-low and extremely-low income people who are either unhoused or in danger of losing their housing.

“Larkin Place will target chronically homeless individuals with household incomes at or below 30% of Area Median Income (AMI),” according to the city’s website. “Onsite supportive services will be provided by Housing with Heart and designed to meet the specific needs of the population.”

The Los Angeles County Affordable Housing Solutions Agency first goal will be to identify its funding source, according to Leano.

“It was an honor to be nominated by the mayors of the San Gabriel Valley to represent the region and ratified by the mayors of entire county,” Leano said. “The SGV is a politically diverse region. But to create affordable housing, we have to check those political differences at the door and work together to get things done. To receive their unanimous support speaks to the spirit of collaboration we all share in the crucial and urgent effort.”


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