ULI Los Angeles: Utilizing Public Lands for Affordable Housing Developments


2021-12-02T08:00:00 - 2021-12-02T09:00:00

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    As homelessness continues to rise and the lack of affordable homes has become more acute, jurisdictions have been looking at a myriad of tools to incentivize the productions of affordable housing. While local jurisdictions cannot leverage the financial resources that the State or Federal government can, cities and public agencies own and control a wide breadth of land that may be surplus, underutilized, or otherwise available for secondary development. Selling at below market rate or long-term leasing are key tools that cities and local agencies can deploy to both subsidize and incentivize affordable housing production. This presents a number of opportunities, including planning for synergies between new housing development and investment in transit infrastructure and other public amenities. However, developing on public land presents a myriad of challenges as well, such as long processes for site control, the preferences of local elected officials and community members, coordination between multiple jurisdictions and agencies, and an evolving State regulatory framework.


    This panel brings together professionals from the local agencies and the development community to discuss both the challenges and opportunities for affordable housing presented by public land, potential future issues, and solutions. 



    Azeen Khanmalek

    Affordable Housing Production Manager, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

    Azeen Khanmalek is the Director of Affordable housing production at the office of Mayor Garcetti. Azeen leads to City’s efforts to expand and expedite the development of affordable housing.


    Alejandro Martinez

    Affordable housing developer

    As the President of CRCD Partners LLC, Mr. Martinez has dedicated his professional career in this industry to ensuring that underserved communities have access to quality affordable housing and appropriate supportive services in South Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, and the County of Los Angeles. Prior joining CRCD and starting CRCD Partners LLC, Mr. Martinez was the Vice President of Real Estate and Asset Management at ELACC where he led a team of +10 that included the Real Estate Department, the Asset Management Department, and the Property Management Department.


    Helmi Hisserich

    LeSar Development Consultant

    Helmi Hisserich is a distinguished leader in affordable housing policy, finance, and development. Over the arc of her career Helmi has worked with a wide range of civic, community, and elected leaders to advance affordable housing and economic development policies and programs in within the City of Los Angeles. From 2009 to 2021 Helmi worked at the Housing & Community Investment Department of Los Angeles (HCIDLA) where she served as Assistant General Manager and Director of Housing Strategies. Under her leadership, the department financed over 8,000 units of affordable housing, made over 500 loans to first time homebuyers, and managed a $1.9 billion loan portfolio.


    Wells Lawson

    Director, Countywide Planning & Development, LACMTA-LA County Metro Transportation Authority

    Wells is Responsible for implementation of real estate development programs through which Metro collaborates with private developers to build transit-oriented developments on Metro-owned land. Wells manages a team of real estate professionals who are directing multiple challenging development projects, encompassing more than 2,300 units and 575,000 square feet of commercial space. His portfolio of completed projects includes more than 2,000 housing units, 305 hotel rooms and approximately 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, and is also overseeing development of Metro's new Joint Development Policy and Process to accelerate Metro's delivery of affordable housing.


    Albert Grazioli

    Facilities Asset Development Director, Los Angeles Unified School District

    Albert is the Head of facilities real estate and asset management for the second largest school district in the nation. In this senior leadership role, he leads, negotiates and implements complex lease and joint use agreements for district assets, multi-family housing projects, medical clinics, data centers, legal settlements and related real estate policies and programs of the Facilities Division at the senior management level. He is responsible for all aspects of the joint use and grant programs and also manages the acquisition of land required for new school construction as well as relocation of businesses and residents resulting from eminent domain proceedings, vacations, easement and dedications as well as special projects.