A long-expected affordable housing bond paid for by Long Beach property owners will be debated Tuesday at the first City Council meeting of the new year.
Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson has been leading the effort to put a bond before voters. Richardson said Monday that a city staff report will determine the final amount of the bond, but that it currently is structured to generate $298 million for various affordable housing efforts and homeless shelters and transitional home.
That size bond would mean property owners would pay $25 per $100,000 in assessed valuation of their property each year for the next 30 years. So if a home is assessed at $500,000, the owner would pay $125 a year to pay off the bond.
“All of the solutions to the housing crisis we’ve talked about boils down to we need more capacity,” Richardson said. “We need permanent supporting housing. We need 2,000 more affordable housing units. Even after the new shelter is built, we need another 600 or 700 shelter beds.
“This bond will help fund all of it. It’s something we have to give the voters a shot at passing.”
If the majority of the council approves a resolution, a general obligation bond would be placed on the November ballot. It would take a two-thirds majority to pass the bond.
Richardson said a group of people has been studying the possibility of a housing bond since 2017 along with the Everyone In economic inclusion initiative. Polling has shown an even larger bond passing once its purpose is known, he said, but the $300 million level apparently will meet the need.
In his transmission letter to put the bond issue on the council agenda, Richardson compared this effort to Measure HHH, passed in 2016 by city of Los Angeles voters. That bond is expected to generate $1.2 billion.
Money from the Long Beach bond could only be spent on generating housing. That could be anything from construction loans to buying and repurposing motels. A Bond Oversight Committee likely would be appointed to oversee spending, but projects would have to get approval from the City Council.
The motion also asks the city manager and his staff to produce a report about the various ways a housing bond could be used to increase the housing stock in Long Beach, as well as create a safety net for precariously housed people on the verge of homelessness. The report also should estimate the cost of administering the various programs; a Project Labor Agreement with local hiring provisions on any housing or other construction projects paid for through the bond.
That report is requested back within 90 days. The letter acknowledges that resources likely will be taken away from other affordable housing efforts to prepare the bond, and asks staff to figure out how to pay for it all.
At the taxing level proposed for the bond, the actual amount of money generated would be $463 million, which would cover the cost of repaying the principal and the interest charged.
Long Beach’s newest councilwoman, the First District’s Mary Zendajas, is a cosponsor of the proposal, as is Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews.
There already are two tax-related ballot items on the March 3 primary budget for Long Beach voters. The first asks for the indefinite extension of the 1 percent sales tax increase passed in 2018 as Measure A. It originally was to sunset (be taken off) after 10 years.
The other ballot issue would increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT or bed tax) by 1 percent, with half of the proceeds going to support arts and culture organizations in the city.