The City of Whittier, California, is predominantly a residential community located in southeastern Los Angeles County. It is known for its attractive neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, and quaint hometown atmosphere. Whittier is a community with a rich and proud heritage, and a longstanding commitment to serving the needs of its residents.
Most of the priorities described in the 5-year strategic plan will be addressed in some fashion during the next 12 months. Whittier will have $1.104 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds and $60,000 in program income available in Fiscal Year 1995 for its Consolidated Plan.
Before all public hearings on the Consolidated Plan, notices and
advertisements were published in the Whittier Daily News; English and
Spanish notices were displayed on the local TV municipal access message; and
invitations were sent to social service and housing providers. Numerous hearings
were held in the fall of 1994 to discuss various CDBGs and other budget/project
issues. On February 21, 1995, and April 25, 1995, public hearings were held on
the Consolidated Plan. During a 30-day comment period, the Consolidated Plan was
available at the Main Library, the Whittwood Branch Library, and the Whittier
Community Development Department.
Whittier's population in 1990 was 77,671, an 11-percent increase from 1980. Significant population growth is not likely because of the lack of available land for housing development. In 1990 the median family income (MFI) in the city was $44,224, compared with an MFI of $39,034 for the Los Angeles County metropolitan area. In 1990, 5,815 households were very low-income (0-50 percent of MFI); 4,113 were low-income (51-80 percent of MFI); and 2,662 were moderate-income (81-95 percent of MFI).
In 1990, 22 percent of the city residents were age 55 and older; almost 14
percent were age 65 or older; and 3 percent were age 80 or older. Seventy-three
percent of Whittier's residents were white, a decrease from 88 percent in 1980.
Hispanics and Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority groups in the
While the number of residents in the city has grown at a modest rate, the number of Whittier residents in the workforce has grown more dramatically. In 1980 there were 35,236 residents in the workforce. By 1990 the workforce had increased to 41,359, a 17- percent increase. Based on the 1990 census, the city's unemployment rate was almost 5 percent. While the unemployment rate in Whittier is now higher because of California's economic downturn, it is still lower than the overall rate in southern California.
Even when the number of available units is sufficient to meet the needs of the existing population, there may be an incompatibility between the size of the units and the size of the households seeking housing. Large families, in particular, often have difficulty finding housing with an adequate number of bedrooms. Whittier has a substantial number of units (46 percent of the housing stock) with three or four bedrooms. The vast majority of the units, however, are single-family, owner-occupied homes, which are not affordable to lower income families.
Because of the lack of affordable housing, overcrowding is much more common among very low-income households. Seventeen percent of all very low-incomerenters and about 18 percent of low-income renters lived in overcrowded conditions in 1990. Only about 4 percent of very low-income and almost 9 percent of low-income owners lived in overcrowded conditions. Large families, by far, reside in the most overcrowded conditions.
Based on the 1990 census Whittier had 28,758 housing units, an almost 4-percent increase from 1980. The housing stock is made up primarily of single-family, owner-occupied homes and, to a lesser extent, small two- to four-unit rental properties. In 1990 about 42 percent of the city's residents were renters and 58 percent were homeowners.
A low vacancy rate can ultimately drive the cost of housing up to the disadvantage of prospective low-income buyers and renters. In Whittier the number of vacant housing units is quite low. Of the city's total units, only 4 percent were vacant in 1990. The vacancy rate for the entire Los Angeles County area at the same time was more than 5 percent.
Housing values have increased steadily throughout most of the past decade, although a leveling off of property values has occurred in Whittier and most other southern California communities in recent years. The median value of owner-occupied homes in the city in 1990 was $209,300.
Much of the housing stock is relatively new. In 1990 almost 8 percent of the city's owner- occupied housing stock was less than 10 years old, and 65 percent was more than 30 years old. Housing older than 50 years represented about 12 percent of the units in the city. The Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) prepared by the city in 1991 identified 680 substandard owner-occupied units and 387 substandard rental units. Of these substandard units, an estimated 20 owner-occupied and 25 rental units were not suitable for rehabilitation.
Of the 3,811 very low-income renter households in 1990, 87 percent paid more than 30 percent of their income for housing and 79 percent paid more than 50 percent. About half of all low-income renter households and one-third of low-income owner households were paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Housing affordability is not as severe a problem among moderate-income households.
In 1990, 1,291 units had a value of less than $125,000 and only 548 units had a value of less than $100,000. Without assistance from the city or another source, there is a limited supply of housing potentially available and affordable to households with incomes between 51 and 80 percent of MFI.
There is no accurate unduplicated count of the number of homeless persons in Whittier. The U.S. Census conducted a count of the homeless on one particular day and night and identified 61 individuals in emergency shelters, 21 women and children in shelters for abused women, and no visible unsheltered individuals or families. These data were undoubtedly not an accurate reflection of the homeless population in Whittier.
Whittier has a strong core of service providers to help the homeless. One is the Social Services Referral Center, a non-profit agency that provides comprehensive information and referrals to local service providers for the homeless. The center interviews and screens applicants for the cold weather overnight rotating shelter from November through April each year, and arranges for meals, clothing, and counseling.
The Salvation Army Emergency Shelter is the only year-round shelter in Whittier. It provides 14 beds for males and 5 beds for females or families. Whittier area residents qualify for up to 5 nights monthly at the shelter. Non-residents qualify for 1 night monthly. The shelter provides dinner, breakfast, shower, and linens at no cost to those who use it. Monthly the shelter averages 201 interviews with homeless clients, 356 meals, 143 bed nights for males, 26 bed nights for females, and 29 bed nights for children.
The Rio Hondo Temporary Home, a transitional housing facility based in the city of Norwalk, serves Whittier residents. It provides child care, weekly budget and credit counseling, and vocational and job development counseling.
Whittier does not have any public housing units nor are there any plans to develop such units within the city during the next 5 years. The city believes that affordable housing can be more efficiently and effectively provided by for-profit and non-profit developers.
As of 1994 the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission reported that 652 Section 8 certificates and vouchers were in the hands of eligible low-income families throughout the city, including 566 households with certificates and 86 with vouchers. The wait for Section 8 assistance is estimated to be 3 to 5 years, depending on the number of bedrooms needed.
The city has five other assisted housing communities that were originally financed solely or in part with Federal or State funds. With operating restrictions designed to benefit low- income tenants, these communities provide affordable housing units for senior citizens, disabled persons, and low-income households in the city. There are 398 units for senior citizens and 27 other units.
Whittier's community leaders are keenly aware of the important impact various government policies can have on the availability of affordable housing within the community. The housing constraints that affect affordable housing, however, are primarily economic and not regulatory or policy oriented. Rising costs within the construction industry, the cost and availability of financing, and the high demand for a limited amount of land have combined to constrain housing production, particularly for low- and moderate-income persons. The net result is significantly higher costs for housing in a period when income may not be rising at the same pace.
Whittier has a Fair Housing Council designed to limit discrimination in housing and increase the level of affordable housing to minorities. This agency investigates allegations of housing discrimination, educates the public on individuals' rights under the law, and provides assistance to people seeking rental housing. The council also mediates disputes between rental property owners and tenants.
The only significant environmental issue affecting the quality of housing in Whittier is the existence of lead-based paint in residential properties. The city estimates that about 25,612 housing units were built before 1979 (lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978); 47 percent of them are rental units. Of these pre-1979 rental units, 6,506 are occupied by households with incomes at or below 80 percent of MFI. Of the owner- occupied units built before 1979, 406 are occupied by households in the same income group. However, it should be noted that not all units containing lead-based paint have lead hazards.
This Consolidated Plan provides a description of the facilities and services available to special needs populations. The Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program offers low interest rate loans for housing rehabilitation assistance that can be used for residents with disabilities to widen doorways, build ramps rather than stairs, and add elevators for multiple-floor units.
The Whittier-based Center for Recovery from Compulsivities, Inc., provides assistance to substance abusers. The center provides a low-cost sober living environment and recovery services. These services are available to persons who do not require primary treatment and who desire a safe, sober, supportive atmosphere in which to strengthen personal recovery and prepare for a healthy reentry into society.
A number of countywide efforts are under way to help persons with HIV/AIDS. One such effort, based in Whittier, is the Whittier-Rio Hondo AIDS Project. This non-profit organization provides educational resources and personal care services such as housecleaning, grocery shopping, transportation, and yard care for persons with HIV/AIDS.
Whittier is a fully developed city with a good base of public facilities and a generally well- established infrastructure. Improvements are needed, however, particularly in the Lower Uptown area and in redevelopment project areas. Improvements needed include street lighting in Lower Uptown, traffic circulation changes through the reconstruction of existing streets, streetscape improvements, landscaping and paving improvements, sidewalk reconstruction, parking structure improvements, and park development and restoration.
Social services are needed to assist senior citizens, women and children experiencing domestic violence, residents who require parenting education, residents needing emergency food programs, and youths.
In terms of economic development, the city should address high business vacancies within the community, abnormally low lease rates, high turnover rates, vacant office and commercial buildings, and excessive numbers of vacant lots within an area developed for commercial use.
The city provided draft copies of the Consolidated Plan to Los Angeles
County and to adjacent communities, but received no comment from those
governments. Efforts to consult with the State were also unsuccessful.
The City of Whittier seeks to maximize the use of Federal, State, and local resources to provide safe, affordable housing, expand economic opportunities, and otherwise ensure a suitable living environment for all of its residents.
Despite the attractiveness of the city as a place for families to live, housing needs must be addressed, particularly for low-income households. The city is aware of these needs and has developed a range of strategies to address them, including the following:
One of the city's strategies is to provide infrastructure improvements, park restoration, public facilities, other physical improvements, and social services that will enhance community attractiveness, particularly in targeted areas.
The city will implement street and alley lighting improvements for the Lower Uptown residential area encompassing La Cuarta Street, Penn Street, Comstock Avenue, and Pickering Avenue. It also plans to develop a new park in the Uptown Whittier/Greenleaf Avenue Redevelopment Area to improve community facilities, provide recreational opportunities to city youth, and reduce crime. The city will continue to implement parking development improvements to meet parking needs in business areas of the city.
Another of the city's strategies is to expand its economic base, increase private sector investment, and promote greater employment opportunities. The city will use redevelopment funds to establish a commercial rehabilitation loan and facade improvement program along Greenleaf Avenue, Whittier Boulevard, and Uptown areas. The Whittier Redevelopment Agency will establish an economic development acquisition and improvement program to eliminate blight conditions and encourage private investment in the Greenleaf Avenue and Whittier Boulevard areas. The city also wants to assist private industry to expand existing facilities and, where feasible, build new facilities.
Whittier's anti-poverty strategy focuses on homeless individuals, families with incomes below 50 percent of the median income, and those households threatened with homelessness because of job loss, medical emergencies, or overcrowded housing.
A network of housing and human services programs is offered to Whittier residents to provide them with the tools they need to become and remain self-sufficient. Many of these programs can assist poverty-level households. The county also has applied for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Family Self-Sufficiency funding. The goal of this program is to identify and remove economic barriers to self-sufficiency and make each household independent of public housing. Although there is no public housing in the city, this program may benefit the city in the long term.
The city's ability to meet housing and community development needs will depend largely on the availability of public and private sector resources. The city will have a number of Federal resources to draw upon such as CDBG, Section 8 Rental Assistance, HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits funds.
Resources that can help the city properly fund affordable housing programs are provided by two State agencies: the California Housing Finance Agency (CHFA) and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). CHFA provides debt financing for rental and homeowner housing. Most of its financing is provided by the issuance of tax- exempt bonds. HCD focuses on subsidy requirements necessary to promote low- and moderate-income housing. Whittier has worked closely with HCD in operation of the State Earthquake Recovery Act Program to assist with property repairs related to the 1987 earthquake. The city will continue to assess whether any of the HCD program and resources can be used effectively during the next 5 years to supplement Federal and local resources.
The primary source of local funds for affordable housing will be the city of Whittier Redevelopment Agency's housing set-aside funds. The agency has three project areas -- Greenleaf Avenue/Uptown Whittier, Whittier Boulevard, and the Whittier Earthquake Recovery Project Areas.
Public and private partnerships are encouraged in the city. Local lending institutions will be asked to actively participate in the implementation of this housing strategy. Several community-spirited local lenders -- Quaker City Federal, Southern California Bank, and Bank of Whittier -- have already demonstrated a commitment to affordable housing in the city. The city will encourage local lenders, where applicable, to apply for funds from the Federal Housing Finance Board's Affordable Housing Program. This program can make subsidized financing available to participating lenders for purchase and rehabilitation of single-family and multifamily housing.
In addition to the resources mentioned, numerous non-profit organizations assist the city in establishing affordable housing programs and stable sources of financing. For example, the Corporate Fund for Housing developed a 169-unit low-income project through a tax-exempt bond issue. Another local non-profit organization, La Habra Neighborhood Housing Services, is developing affordable townhomes and providing home improvement loans at below- market rates to homeowners in the John Greenleaf Whittier neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity plans to build affordable, low-cost, single-family homes for very low-income families in the city.
The city's Community Development Department is the lead agency for the plan.
Close coordination and interaction among city departments and non-profit and
for-profit organizations in the community is necessary to successfully implement
a 5-year strategy. Whittier's goal is to maximize the number of organizations
and the effectiveness of these institutional forces working toward achieving
affordable housing for all city residents.
Most of the priorities described in the 5-year strategic plan will be undertaken to some extent during the next 12 months. Activities to be undertaken this year include the following:
Consolidated Plan projects will occur citywide, with an emphasis on the Lower Uptown area.
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).