Lancaster, located in north Los Angeles County, California, has experienced a dramatic population increase in recent years. From 1980 to 1990, the total population increased by 103 percent, with a significant increase in minority groups. This increase can be attributed to the availability of affordable housing and to 67 percent of the housing stock being less than 20 years old.
Lancaster has experienced a severe recession since the beginning of this decade. Although the largest local employer is currently the aerospace industry, the community is working to diversify its economic and industrial base.
For the Fiscal Year 1995, Lancaster's action plan allocates $1,277,241 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds to benefit low- to moderate-income households. Projects include removing architectural barriers to make units more accessible, rehabilitating single-unit and multiunit residences, and acquiring property in targeted slum and blighted areas.
In November 1994 the city held a public hearing to solicit public comment on the proposed Consolidated Plan. In April 1995 the city published a draft of the plan in a local newspaper with general circulation and announced a second public hearing. Copies of the public hearing notice were mailed to all relevant agencies and groups, including information on availability of the draft. (Copies of the draft plan were mailed upon request.) Citizens were encouraged to comment on the proposed plan during the 30-day comment period and to attend the public hearing. On May 15, 1995, the city council adopted the final Consolidated Plan and 1-year action plan.
According to the 1990 census, Lancaster has a total population of 97,291 persons living in 33,112 households. Of this total, 81 percent are white; 10 percent are Hispanic; 5 percent are African American; 3 percent are Asian American and Pacific Islander; and 1 percent are Native American. As of 1990, minority populations were not concentrated in specific areas of the city.
According to the 1990 census, there are 3,947 extremely low-income households (0-30 percent of the median family income [MFI]) and 3,396 low-income households (31-50 percent of MFI). There are 5,141 moderate-income households (51-80 percent of MFI) and 2,899 middle-income households (81-95 percent of MFI).
In the above-mentioned household income categories, the percentage of households for a particular racial/ethnic group never exceeded 10 percent of the total. However, 30 percent of African American households and 28 percent of Hispanic households fell within the extremely low- and low-income categories, demonstrating a growing need for some type of housing assistance for these groups.
Between 1980 and 1990, the population increased by approximately 103 percent, versus an 18-percent increase for the entire county. This population growth resulted from the availability of affordable housing.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Lancaster has experienced a severe recession, which has affected all of southern California. The recession has caused a significant drop in new construction for all types of housing. Furthermore, the population growth experienced during the 1980s has also slowed.
The largest local employer is the aerospace industry. In 1994 the unemployment rate averaged 9.6 percent. City officials, in cooperation with the business community and other public agencies, are striving to diversify Lancaster's industrial and economic base, hoping to minimize severe fluctuations in the local economy.
In 1990, 70 percent of the houses built before 1940 were occupied by extremely low-, low-, and moderate-income households. The same income groups occupied only 44 percent of houses constructed between 1940 and 1959. Furthermore, houses built more than 40 years ago tend to be concentrated within a small area close to the center of town. Generally, these older housing units most often create housing problems or suffer from severe physical deterioration. However, lower income households often experience cost burdens that may prevent them from making necessary home repairs.
In 1990, only 2,550 housing units were substandard, meaning they did not meet the city's building code and/or Federal Section 8 housing standards. This number is relatively small because more than 67 percent of the housing stock is less than 20 years old.
Estimates suggest that lower income households occupied more than 80 percent of the substandard units. The city provided grants and loans for the rehabilitation of 757 residential units. 1995 estimates suggest that the combined number of rehabilitated units and demolished units has reduced the substandard housing stock by approximately 38 percent.
In 1990 there were 36,217 housing units in Lancaster. Of the 32,901 occupied units, 63 percent were owner occupied, and 37 percent were renter occupied.
Although half of the housing stock was constructed between 1980 and 1990, housing construction and sales decreased considerably at the beginning of 1990 because of the onset of a major recession. This combination resulted in deflated housing prices. In 1993 the average sales price for residential properties was $113,092. For condominiums, the average price was $52,800, and for mobile homes, the average price was $25,100. Currently, the housing construction and sales markets continue to be depressed. However, long-term speculation suggests that home prices will increase again.
At the beginning of the recession, the multifamily buildings constructed during the 1980s were on the market for an extended period of time. However, by 1992 owners had started to convert these units into condominiums. Many of the units were offered to households in the very low- to moderate-income range, creating more affordable housing for these households while decreasing the number of available rental units.
In 1992 the city conducted a survey of 514 multifamily rental projects that had been occupied since 1989. It found that 62 percent of one- and two-bedroom units rented for $430 to $550 per month, while 38 percent rented for $650 to $675. A wider cross-section of the rental market, one that included older rental housing, would probably show even lower monthly rents.
Since 1990 Lancaster has maintained an annual vacancy rate of more than 9 percent for sale and rental units. A breakdown of all vacant housing in 1990 revealed that 60 percent were single-family units; 28 percent were multifamily units; and 10 percent were mobile homes. This breakdown suggests that a family, regardless of size, should not have any problems finding a unit to match its needs. The vacancy rate will probably remain high until the region regains its economic strength and the unsold housing inventory is depleted.
The sufficient housing stock and new construction should be enough to support the city's projected population increases. However, programs that provide housing for senior citizens and extremely low-, low-, and moderate-income households should receive continued support.
Of extremely low-income households, over half had severe cost burdens, paying more than 50 percent of their gross income for housing costs, including utilities, and three-quarters had cost burdens, paying more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing costs. Another 30 percent also had housing problems, which included units with physical defects, units lacking complete kitchens or bathrooms, and/or overcrowded units.
Of low-income households, 32 percent were extremely cost burdened, and 70 percent were cost burdened. About 73 percent of low-income households experienced housing problems.
Large renter households experienced the most severe cost burdens and housing problems. More than 40 percent of the total number of these households lived in overcrowded conditions. This percentage applied for all income groups and was a drastic contrast to the 4 percent of owner-occupied households that experienced overcrowding.
Generally, most Lancaster households having cost burdens also experienced some type of housing problems. Cost burdens and housing problems affected far more renter households than owner households. Also, cost burdens affected fewer elderly households than households in the extremely low- to low-income range.
Moderate-income households experienced fewer cost burdens and housing problems than extremely low- and low-income households. Of moderate-income households, nearly half had cost burdens and housing problems.
The homeless population in Lancaster includes severely mentally ill persons, persons with alcohol and drug addictions, persons fleeing domestic violence, and homeless youth. On any given night in Los Angeles County, California, there are between 43,233 and 77,143 unsheltered homeless people. Approximately 10,738 of these are children, and another 4,379 are members of their family. The homeless population often migrates from one area to the next, depending on the availability of aid, weather conditions, and other factors. Therefore, homelessness is a regional concern throughout Antelope Valley.
In the 24-hour period of February 7, 1995, all Lancaster organizations that provide some form of daily aid to the homeless counted 266 homeless people, with 153 receiving some form of temporary housing. The total figure included 60 persons who comprised 19 homeless families, and of those, 11 families received temporary shelter. The majority of the homeless population were adults, while four were homeless youths not in families.
Of the homeless people counted during this period, about 14 percent were severely mentally ill. Another 25 percent were persons with alcohol or drug addiction, including those who suffered from both severe mental illness and alcohol or other drug addiction. Another 5 percent were victims of domestic violence. During the period the survey, no one reported having HIV/AIDS.
During the 1960s the State-operated mental health hospitals began to deinstitutionalize their mentally ill patients and return them to the mainstream population as outpatients. Many of these people eventually joined the homeless population. Currently, the Lancaster Community Homeless Shelter provides temporary shelter only for severely mentally ill persons who receive medication. Also, the Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center's Mental Health Department houses severely mentally ill persons only during extremely harsh weather conditions.
Los Angeles County has two alcohol and drug addiction recovery facilities that operate in the Antelope Valley. Each facility can house approximately 400 persons for up to 9 months.
During 1992, 397 persons fleeing domestic violence used the services of The Valley Oasis Shelter in Lancaster. The shelter can house 60 persons per day, while providing crisis intervention and peer counseling services. Although the number of these people who are homeless has not been determined, they can be counted among the potentially homeless.
No information exists on the number of homeless youth living in the city. Furthermore, the Lancaster Community Shelter and the Salvation Army do not house homeless youth, they refer the youth to Walden Environments, which places them with families in foster homes. Walden has several group home facilities located in Lancaster and other areas throughout the Antelope Valley.
Lancaster does not own or operate public housing units because as required by the California Constitution, the voters have not given it authority to develop public housing.
Currently, Beechwood Manor, which has 100 units, is the only development financed through the Section 236 program. The owner will most likely continue to maintain the units at affordable rates through the year 2012.
There are 6 Section 8 and Section 221 (D)(4) developments, which contain a total of 425 units, with 75 being reserved for the elderly. There are also 14 developments, which contain 646 units, and which receive financing from city/Redevelopment Agency mortgage revenue bonds that place affordability restrictions on a certain percentage of the units.
At the end of 1994, 67 persons with HIV were residing in Lancaster. This number was not significant enough for the city to reserve entire facilities or hospices for the exclusive use of the AIDS population. However, several private and public organizations serve this population, such as: the Catalysis Foundation for AIDS Awareness and Care, Antelope Valley Hope Center, and Sunrise HIV and AIDS Coalition.
No estimates exist on the current number of physically disabled households in Lancaster. A 1995 survey of multifamily projects containing 10 or more units reported that 475 units were accessible to persons with physical disabilities. At the time of the survey, 125 physically disabled persons were receiving full-time care in these facilities.
The city estimates that nearly 2,000 residents have some type of developmental disability. The North Los Angeles County Regional Center, Inc., currently serves approximately 1,300 people throughout the Antelope Valley. In addition, 90 developmentally disabled children and adults receive full-time care from various facilities in Lancaster.
No clear estimates exist on the number of persons with alcohol- or drug-related addictions or the number of those with severe mental illness.
Potential barriers to affordable housing arise from government and market constraints. The major government-imposed constraints include: reduced national and State commitment to housing programs; conflicting responsibilities among local governments; development standards and land-use controls; problems with processing development application fees and paying for the costs associated with new development; and the overall processing time required for the necessary permits, inspections, and approvals.
These constraints must be identified in planning for the development, maintenance, and improvement of housing. However, many of these constraints cannot be mitigated by local government, particularly those related to the condition of the national economy.
Currently, Lancaster cannot identify any local policies, ordinances, resolutions, or procedures that inhibit its ability to implement affordable housing and housing assistance. City officials, department heads, and community members are supportive of the affordable housing programs available to lower income households. However, the city will continually examine all new policies, ordinances, and procedures to identify and correct potential constraints.
The Fair Housing Opportunities Center provides housing assistance to special needs groups, ensuring that fair housing services are provided.
Lead-based paint in residential structures is not a significant problem in Lancaster because the city does not have the large inventories of older housing stock that plaque other communities. The majority of Lancaster's housing stock was constructed after 1979, when lead-based paint had been banned from residential use.
The city will act as the lead agency in the preparation and administration of the Consolidated Plan and Strategy.
Using information provided by various organizations and groups during the development of the Consolidated Plan, the city identified the following priorities which will be addressed during the 5-year planning period.
The city's housing priorities are as follows:
The city's non-housing priorities are as follows:
The priorities and objectives outlined in various sections of the Strategic Plan component represent the city's 5-year program for addressing the housing and economic needs of the community. Particular attention has been paid to the needs of lower income families and individuals, including those with special needs and those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The priorities and objectives are aimed at reducing the number of families and individuals living below the poverty level.
These efforts will help to reduce of the number of poverty level families by providing housing and services. Furthermore, the combined efforts of the city and the Redevelopment Agency will improve economic and development expansion by increasing employment opportunities for targeted income groups.
The primary components of the institutional structure are the Lancaster Redevelopment Agency and the city of Lancaster. Several non-profit organizations, including churches, provide ancillary support for the city's housing efforts. The city and the Redevelopment Agency intend to create incentives for private investment by maximizing use of financial and human resources.
This public-private participation has created, and will continue to provide: the reduction of blight; the stimulation of industrial, commercial, residential, and public development; the expansion of the local employment base; and the enhancement of opportunities for lower income housing.
Organizations that contributed to the Consolidated Plan program will continue to be an important element in implementing the plan's programs. The city will monitor and evaluate the progress made toward achieving the objectives presented in the Consolidated Plan.
Key programs planned for the first year of the Consolidated Plan include:
The largest of the proposed projects will occur in Redevelopment Area No. 5, which is bordered by 3rd Street East, 5th Street East, Avenue I, and Avenue H-8.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
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 depicts Neighborhood Segments 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 project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).