Hundreds wait in line for the chance of affordable housing in L.A.


More than 700 people lined up for a chance at something as rare in Los Angeles as snowplows and trustworthy agents: affordable housing.

The Hollywood Community Housing Corp. was giving out applications -- just 240 of them -- for a lottery that would result in some lucky families getting into one of just 58 subsidized apartments. Organizers knew there was a lot of interest, but they weren't prepared for the overwhelming number of people desperate enough to wait for hours for a slim-to-none chance of affordable housing.

But in a place like L.A., where even apartments in bad areas run $1,000-a month and up, working folks will take any stab offered for affordability.

It's a scandal that hard-working low-income families have to double or triple-up in small apartments because rents exceed their incomes. There needs to be housing for every level of income. The government has slashed subsidies for affordable housing for 20 years, and it's come down to this. It's not unusual for people here to spend more than half their income on housing, and that's just wrong. Housing is a basic need, much like health care. And hey, we don't have access to that, either.

If we can bail-out giant banks with billions because their own greed and mismanagement has pushed them to the brink, we can find a few billion to house the workers. Unless leaders want our cities surrounded by the kind of shanty-towns you see in third-world countries, affordable housing had better become a public policy priority.