By Arnold Adler
PARAMOUNT — The city has joined the Gateway Cities Affordable Housing Trust, a multi-community effort to meet state requirements for low-income housing by providing funds and advice to trust members.
The City Council approved joining the trust on a 5-0 vote, City Clerk Heide Luce said.
The Gateway Cities region of Los Angeles County includes 27 cities primarily located between the Long Beach (710) Freeway and San Gabriel River (605) Freeway in southeastern Los Angeles County.
The Gateway Cities Council of Governments is based in Paramount, which is one of 27 member cities. Melani Smith is director of regional development. City mangers from each member city make up the board of directors.
“So far, the cities of Lakewood, Artesia, Maywood, Commerce, Montebello and Whittier have passed resolutions to join the trust, in addition to Paramount,” Smith told a reporter.
“Bell, Bell Gardens, Norwalk, Compton, Signal Hill and Long Beach are scheduled to take the item to their councils in the next few weeks.
“We are having conversations with the remaining cities on an ongoing basis and expect that there will be others taking up the item in the near future as well.
“The goal is to have the trust board formed in April and the first meeting of the trust held in May,” Smith said.
In a report to the Paramount City Council Feb. 14, Planning Director John Carver said the California Regional Housing Needs Assessment requires cities to plan for a minimum of 364 new housing units over eight years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Oct. 1, 2029.
“Of those 364 units, 183 must be affordable housing units,” Carver said. “Paramount, therefore, is required to plan for a minimum of 183 affordable housing units.”
Carver told the council the state was becoming more aggressive in enforcing its housing requirements and joining the Gateway Cities Affordable Housing Trust was one way the city could begin to meet the housing goals required by the state.
The purpose of a housing trust is to fund housing for qualifying individuals and households with low and moderate income, he told the council.
“A housing trust can also establish, maintain, or provide programs or services to its residents as it deems proper and necessary,” Carver said in his report.
Carver said that over the previous eight-year housing planning period from 2013 to 2021, the Gateway Cities Council of Governments had received tax credit funding for 58 projects totaling nearly 6,000 housing units.
The Gateway Cities Council of Governments began forming its housing trust in early 2021. Since then, the housing trust steering committee has created a joint powers agreement for trust members, developed an administrative plan, governance structure and bylaws for the trust.
The committee also has met with cities within the Gateway Council to learn their housing needs and priorities, Carver said.
The joint powers agreement requires members to contribute toward administrative expenses of the trust. Member cities are not required to contribute funding until July 1, 2024.
Membership fees are based on city population. Cities with a population below 30,000 are required to pay $7,500, cities between 30,000 and 60,000 will pay $15,000, cities between 60,000 and 100,000 people will pay $32,500 and cities with more than 100,000 people will pay $47,500.
Paramount, with a population of approximately 53,000, will pay a membership fee of $15,000, Carver said with the amount increasing annually based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index for the Los Angeles-Long Beach area.
The city can withdraw from the joint powers authority with six-month notice.
The trust will be governed by a nine-member board of directors comprised of seven elected officials whose cities are members of the trust and appointed by the Gateway Cities Council of Governments Board. The two additional board members will be experts in homelessness or housing policy and approved by the Gateway Cities Council of Governments City Managers Committee.
According to Carver, a 2022 survey of Gateway cities revealed that there are 38 affordable housing projects currently in the pipeline that have not yet started construction. Most are in need of critical gap subsidy funding to start construction.
The 38 pipeline projects would benefit from additional funding provided by the trust, which could accelerate and facilitate the creation of an additional 4,000 affordable housing units in the area, Carver said.
“In summary, joining the trust would support the city’s housing element goals of encouraging more affordable housing, as well as the objective to secure state, federal and local affordable housing funds and to assist developers in finding funding sources,” Carver said.