What is the Wiggins Settlement Agreement?
The Wiggins Settlement Agreement is a 2006 stipulated judgment that was the result of a redevelopment lawsuit filed by a homeless organization and two individuals to protect low-income housing in downtown Los Angeles.
What does the Wiggins Settlement do?
The Settlement protects more than 9,000 low-income housing units. Since 2006, approximately 2,000 units have been replaced and covenanted so very low-income tenants can afford the rent, and more than 800 low-income units have been added to downtown Los Angeles.
The Settlement created a “no net loss” policy for low-income housing in downtown Los Angeles, primarily residential hotels. Unchecked gentrification, sometimes aided by redevelopment, tends to lead to the loss of affordable housing. The idea behind “no net loss” is to make sure that housing affordable to low-income tenants is not lost. The Wiggins Settlement created a baseline of more than 9,000 low-income units downtown. The settlement ensures that the City doesn’t go below that baseline by requiring that if any units are lost, they be replaced at the same affordability level, measured by Area Median Income (AMI).
The settlement also created a local hiring program for projects within the downtown redevelopment areas and established a Jobs Training Fund, for both capital improvements and job training programs.
How is the Wiggins Settlement implemented?
The Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles Board passed “Design Guidelines and Controls for Residential Hotels in the City Center and Central Industrial Redevelopment Project Areas.” These guidelines are triggered by the city’s permit process. The CRA/LA was responsible for ensuring compliance with the Wiggins Settlement and the Design Guidelines. That responsibility was moved to the City of Los Angeles in November 2019. Any replacement units must record affordable housing covenants for 55 years, therefore providing long-term affordable housing not subject to the vagaries of the housing market.
How is the Wiggins Settlement different from the City of Los Angeles Residential Hotel Unit Conversion and Demolition Ordinance?
The primary difference is that while the Ordinance requires replacement units, Wiggins requires replacement at the same affordability level (AMI level) as they were in 2006, updated by the consumer price index, which averages 35% AMI level. The other difference is Wiggins only applies to downtown Los Angeles, and the Ordinance applies to the entire City.
How did the dissolution of community redevelopment agencies in 2012 impact the Wiggins Settlement?
It did not. The California Department of Finance found the Wiggins Settlement to be an enforceable obligation. Therefore, the Settlement and its implementing Design Guidelines remain in effect until 2033.
What is LAFLA’s role in the Wiggins Settlement?
LAFLA continues to represent our client, Los Angeles Community Action Network, in ensuring the City of Los Angeles is complying with the Wiggins Settlement and the Design Guidelines.
Has LAFLA benefited from the Wiggins Settlement?
LAFLA and our co-counsel Public Interest Law Project of California (PILP/CA) did not receive any attorney fees from the Wiggins litigation. LAFLA applied for capital funding from the Jobs Training Fund in 2017, 11 years after its inception. All negotiations were handled by PILP/CA, and the funding was approved by both the successor agency to the CRA/LA and the California Department of Finance. LAFLA was one of five projects granted capital funds.
What is the Jerome Wiggins Memorial Justice Fund?
The fund was created in 2019 by funds from a developer who had commenced and finished construction without being required by the CRA/LA to comply with the Wiggins Settlement or Design Guidelines. The fund is administered by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, and residential hotel tenants may apply for funds to pay back rent or other limited purposes. For the first nine months, 46 tenant households were approved for funding by Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles. Tenants living in residential hotels downtown can contact LA CAN to apply for funds: LA CAN, 838 E. 6th Street, 90021.