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Chandler Featured Panelist at New York Housing Conference

Ted Chandler

On Tuesday (December 4), the New York Housing Conference celebrated its 45th Annual Awards program and included a session on “California Dreaming.” Experts on housing politics and policies discussed a variety of issues related to affordable housing in the state and the challenges and barriers that must be overcome to increase the supply.

Ted Chandler, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust’s COO, participated in the forum, noting that there is a growing consensus that organized labor can play a significant role in helping to address the affordable housing crisis in California.

“By creating union construction jobs to work on affordable housing projects, it can relieve some of the demand for low income housing,” Chandler said. “Union construction workers make enough to support their families, while non-union construction workers in California earn so little - about $27,000 annually - that they join the pool of low-income earners in need of affordable housing.”

The session was moderated by RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and included Chandler, Richard Gerwitz, Managing Director, Co-Head, Citi Community Capital; Linda Mandolini, President, Eden Housing; and Sean L. Spear, Assistant General Manager, Housing Development Bureau, Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department.

The panelists discussed a number of issues, including how Los Angeles is addressing homelessness, the production and preservation of affordable housing, tenant protections and the how the recent fires will impact the housing crisis.

In October, the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and Beacon Economics issued a report saying that the affordable housing crisis in Southern California affects low income families as well as those with incomes that are in the median and 75th percentile. It found that families whose household incomes are in the 25th to 75th percentile are spending 58% of their income on rent, 28% more than the recommended amount.

But affordable housing isn’t a problem just in Southern California; it’s throughout the state.

Yet, Chandler said there are signs of progress across California, particularly the approving of affordable housing bond issues that include Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), pre-hire collective bargaining agreements that outline the terms of engagement with organized labor organizations. “Clearly, the blueprint for the future calls for more coalitions between the affordable housing community and organized labor,” Chandler said. “While the circumstances differ in every location, the guiding principle is that broad coalitions can unite to obtain the resources to build affordable housing.”