Located north of Long Beach, Bellflower, California, is a small city covering 6.1 square miles in Los Angeles County. At the turn of the century, Bellflower was home to a dairy industry and a large population of Dutch immigrants. The city gradually evolved into a bedroom community composed primarily of single-family homes and a small, thriving downtown area. Today, Bellflower has an ethnically diverse population of 61,815. With 56 active churches, the city has the Nation's highest concentration of churches per square mile.
Bellflower has developed a 5-year strategic plan to address its housing and community development needs. During the upcoming year, Bellflower will spend more than $1.9 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds to complete 33 projects. The city will rehabilitate the existing housing stock, revitalize the downtown area, assist residents with special needs, and complete infrastructure improvements.
To encourage citizen participation during the development of the Consolidated Plan, Bellflower held two public hearings to solicit information and suggestions from the community. Both hearings were videotaped and broadcast on a local cable television network. The Bellflower City Council appointed a five-person task force to monitor and direct the development of the plan. The task force was made up of longtime city residents and was selected to represent a cross-section of the community.
Bellflower has become a refuge for persons fleeing the violence and bleakness of the inner city. Although many residents commute to offices throughout Los Angeles County, the city has a relatively strong job base. In 1990 Bellflower had a civilian labor force of 32,260 persons and an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent compared with the Los Angeles County unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. In 1990 the majority of residents had lived in the city less than 5 years.
The city's racial composition has changed during the past two decades. In 1980 the total population was 53,441, with 38,001 (71 percent) being white. Between 1980 and 1990, the white population decreased by more than 9,000 residents, while the minority populations grew by more than 17,000. During this period the African-American population quadrupled, from 906 to 3,865; the Hispanic population almost doubled, from 7,934 to 14,381; and the Asian-American population tripled, from 2,134 to 6,214.
The age of Bellflower's population also changed. Although the elderly population has modestly increased since 1980, the number of families with small children has grown tremendously. The number of children under age 10 increased by 40 percent since 1980, currently constituting one-sixth of the overall population.
Bellflower's median family income (MFI) is $41,000. Of the city's 22,921 households, 26 percent are classified as very low income because they earn less than 51 percent of MFI. Another 18 percent are classified as low income because they earn 51 to 80 percent of MFI. Most lower income households are concentrated in neighborhoods in central Bellflower.
Although more than half of all housing was built before 1960, Bellflower's housing stock is generally well maintained. In December 1993 the city conducted an exterior observation survey to evaluate the structural condition of the housing stock. The survey rated the city's 24,117 housing units as follows:
The 1990 census counted 22,905 occupied housing units in Bellflower. Nearly 60 percent of those were rental units. The city's median monthly rent was $570, which was slightly lower than the $581 median rent for Los Angeles County.
The city's median value for owner-occupied housing was $195,000 compared with the $226,000 median value for Los Angeles County.
Between 1980 and 1990, the city added 1,637 dwelling units to its housing stock. Of these new units, 38 percent were single-family, attached units; 37 percent were in housing communities containing five or more units; 17 percent were in communities containing three to four units; 14 percent were duplexes; and 13 percent were mobile homes. In 1993, 301 illegal garage conversions were identified in the city.
The recent downsizing of local defense contractors has contributed to increased vacancy rates. The city's vacancy rate is 5.2 percent for rental units and 1.8 percent for owner- occupied units.
Very low-income households often rent their housing, and most experience housing problems, such as excessive cost burdens. Large households usually experience excessive cost burdens and overcrowding. Very low-income owners are primarily elderly households.
Low-income households experience various housing problems, with renters being most affected. Households in this income category are most vulnerable to changes. Some are young households that are climbing the income ladder, while others are families that cannot meet rising costs and unemployment.
Among moderate-income households (81 to 95 percent of MFI), elderly households that have paid off their mortgages are least likely to experience cost burdens. However, non- elderly owners often experience cost burdens. Renters in this income category could become homeowners with appropriate assistance.
The city expects that overcrowding will continue to be a problem in upcoming years because of insufficient large affordable housing units and because of the growing number of families with small children.
Bellflower has actively provided its elderly population with more housing options. Since 1988 the city has approved four senior housing complexes containing a total of 564 units. However, the demand for senior housing has exceeded the supply, and an estimated 209 persons appear on waiting lists for senior housing.
The city has 484 housing units for frail, elderly persons as well as a number of convalescent and nursing homes. One community containing 144 units offers onsite supportive housing for the frail elderly. Currently, the city does not have any housing designed for persons with disabilities.
Bellflower estimates that there are 50 homeless individuals and 4 homeless families consisting of 15 persons. In 1994 agencies in the city provided shelter for approximately 28 homeless individuals, while agencies from surrounding jurisdictions provided shelter for 4 families from Bellflower. Overall, the city encourages a regional approach to homelessness.
However, not all the homeless were sheltered. The Housing and Community Development Task Force reports that several homeless persons, including some children, stay in the city's main park, while others live underneath overpasses on Route 91. Some resist staying in shelters.
Many homeless persons need special services, such as mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment. The following facilities in Bellflower provide assistance to the homeless or those threatened with homelessness:
Most of Bellflower is developed. Only 59 acres of land zoned for residential use remain vacant, and this land can accommodate approximately 836 new housing units. As vacant land becomes more scarce, land prices will increase, discouraging the development of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income persons.
Governmental restrictions at State and local levels also impede the construction of affordable housing. The city's zoning ordinances and California building code standards restrict the areas that can be developed while increasing construction costs.
Because of the age of the housing stock, Bellflower has a large number of units that might contain lead-based paint hazards. Furthermore, because of the large population of children, who are most at risk, Bellflower is particularly vulnerable to potential lead-based paint poisonings. Three cases of lead poisoning have been documented since 1993.
The city will continue to track incidences of elevated blood-lead levels in children. The city also will provide abatement services for homes receiving rehabilitation assistance through CDBG or HOME funding.
Bellflower has a large number of mobile homes. The city's 42 mobile home parks contain 1,492 units. Although mobile homes offer an affordable housing option for first-time homebuyers and low-income persons, the city reports that the majority of the mobile home parks are substandard and need immediate rehabilitation. Currently, 77 percent of Bellflower's mobile homes are owner occupied, with most owners being low-income, elderly persons.
Bellflower has a number of long-term housing and community needs, which will require substantial financial resources. The city rates the following among its high-priority needs during the next 5 years:
Bellflower has two major priorities that will improve the quality and availability of housing during the next 5 years:
The city will continue to offer low-interest loans and rebates to rental property owners who rent primarily to low-income tenants. The city will offer additional incentives to owners who reserve units for very low-income families. To ensure continued affordability, these programs require that post-rehabilitation rents do not exceed fair market rents. The city's goal is to annually rehabilitate 20 housing units through these programs.
Bellflower also will expand its efforts to help low-income owners rehabilitate their homes. Using low-interest loans, rebates, and grants, the city hopes to preserve 150 homes during the next 5 years.
CDBG funds will be used for the homebuyers' assistance program, which provides low- income households with deferred second mortgages to cover half of the downpayment and closing costs. The local board of realtors actively participates in the program and helps homeowners to locate appropriately priced homes.
Bellflower has four basic nonhousing development priorities, which will be addressed during the next 5 years:
The 1990 census counted 5,862 persons living in poverty. Of these 34 percent were under age 18 and 9 percent were over age 65. Bellflower's anti-poverty strategy will focus on local job creation and greater access to training and employment services for parents and young persons. The Bellflower United School District will continue to provide young persons with job training opportunities to increase their competitive edge in the job market. The city will create jobs using its Business Loan Fund, which encourages the development of new businesses in the community.
In addition to CDBG and HOME funds, Bellflower will draw upon the following resources:
Bellflower's Community Development Department is the lead agency responsible for implementing the Consolidated Plan. The Community Development Department designs, coordinates, and implements all housing programs as well as other CDBG- or HOME-funded activities.
During the development of the Consolidated Plan, the Community Development Department consulted with various public, private, and nonprofit organizations to pinpoint community needs and implement effective strategies. Key participants included: the Bellflower Planning Department, the Los Angeles County Building and Safety Department, the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, the Boulevard Association, and local churches.
For Fiscal Year 1995, Bellflower will spend more than $1.4 million in CDBG funds to complete 30 housing and community development projects, including:
Bellflower also will set aside $400,000 in HOME funds for a community housing development organization (CHDO). The CHDO will acquire vacant lots or properties containing substandard housing and will construct new homes or rehabilitate existing ones. These homes will be sold to first-time homebuyers either at cost or with subsidies that ensure affordability.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).