Metro adds a new mission: Lowering LA rents

Testing the Metro Expo
Testing the Metro Expo

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The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency's governing board voted Thursday to set aside 35 percent of its own land for affordable housing. Metro will sell the land at below market rates to entice developers to build apartments near transit hubs for low-income residents. 

The agency, which is known for running local subways, light-rail, and buses, sees this new initative as a way to help stabilize the city's sky-high rents. 

“Metro has sizable land holdings, and if we can involve them in the affordable housing crisis, we’re that much closer to a solution,” said Yusef Robb, Mayor Eric Garcetti's outgoing communications director.

Robb says 85 percent of Metro riders are low-income and struggle to pay L.A rents.

"If they’re pushed so far out into the suburbs and far away from their work, they might have to drive in," said Robb.

That means those people wouldn’t be using Metro, and traffic would get even worse.

“The link between affordable housing and transit is a common sense one that will boost our economy and cut traffic,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “Our transportation infrastructure program represents the nation’s largest public works program, and it’s important that we seize the opportunity to maximize all the benefits that can go along with it, including affordable housing and jobs.”

In an editorial, The Los Angeles Times explained that lower-income people who live near metro stations are much more likely to use them than higher-income people;

There is a real concern that ridership will decline if the housing prices around transit stations skyrocket. Why? Because wealthier residents usually own cars and tend to use transit less than other residents. Workers who earn less than $25,000 and live within half a mile of a transit station are three times more likely to take transit than those who earn more than $75,000 and live close to a station. Metro has an interest in ensuring that the people who ride public transportation can afford to live near it.