Election 2022: LA Measure LH, authorizing 75,000 low-income housing units, cruising to win

Measure LH, which would authorize Los Angeles to approve up to 5,000 new low-income housing units in each City Council district, held a commanding lead today and was heading toward easy passage, according to results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

With 15 council districts, the measure would allow the city to pursue building as many as 75,000 new units using already available public funds —though it doesn’t require or guarantee that the units will be built.

The issue is coming before voters because of Article 34 in the state Constitution, which requires voter approval for housing projects in which more than 50 percent of units are reserved for low-income households.

Article 34 was steeped in racist housing policy. It was approved by voters in 1950, a time when racial covenants and redlining were rampant. Some proponents and real estate interest groups feared that an increase in low-income housing would lead to more neighborhoods integrating. A ballot measure to repeal the law is set to come before voters in 2024.

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Los Angeles voters approved a 2008 ballot measure that authorized a level of 3,500 low-income housing units per council district. But a few districts are getting near the cap, which is “insufficient to address homelessness and meet the city’s affordable housing needs,” according to the city’s housing department.

The city has not authorized additional affordable housing since 2008. There were no arguments against Measure LH in the city’s official voter information pamphlet.

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