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CRA'S PROPOSED FY 94 BUDGET WOULD MAINTAIN FOCUS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

 LOS ANGELES, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Administrator Edward J. Avila today presented a proposed agency budget for fiscal year 1994 that responds to the city's pressing need for more jobs, affordable housing and human services in the wake of last spring's civil unrest.
 However, Avila told CRA commissioners that pending state and local budget cuts will severely undercut the agency's efforts to meet those obligations. Last year CRA transferred $43 million to ease state and city budget shortfalls. Avila said the fiscal situation this year is even grimmer.
 "As the City Council grapples with the budget crisis, one of the options they are exploring is shutting down redevelopment projects downtown and elsewhere in the city," Avila said.
 "That action would abruptly pull the plug on CRA's citywide affordable housing program, curtail homeless services in Skid Row, abandon child care and job creation activities that the agency has been asked to perform not just by the mayor and City Council but by a host of citizen advisory panels in the city's 17 redevelopment projects," Avila explained.
 The CRA administrator also observed that unless the spending cap for the Central Business District Redevelopment Project is raised, FY 94 will be the last year CRA could commit any resources for downtown revitalization. That would mean scrapping services for the homeless in Skid Row, where CRA is the lead city agency, and halting efforts to renew the historic core, industrial eastside, South Park community building and other programs.
 Pending approval by the City Council, CRA proposes to spend $422 million in the fiscal year starting July 1, 1993, before cutbacks to be decided by the Legislature and Council. However, more than half that sum -- $243 million -- is for debt service. CRA took advantage of lower interest rates to refinance much of its Central Business District Redevelopment Project debt in 1987 and now will repay those bonds in a one-time $178 million transaction.
 Following debt service, the largest slice of the budget pie is earmarked for affordable housing. CRA proposes spending $95 million next year on housing. That's 53 percent of the budget balance excluding debt. The redevelopment agency expects to build and rehabilitate 1,278 units. Ninety-six percent of that production will serve very low- to moderate-income individuals and families.
 CRA's investment in housing addresses the demand for decent, safe and affordable dwellings throughout the city and also will generate thousands of construction jobs.
 At the same time, the agency proposes spending $50 million next year on commercial development, community facilities and public improvements.
 CRA is poised to lay the groundwork for economic recovery in riot-torn areas if the community and City Council concur. More than $3 million is budgeted to facilitate this effort. CRA also will initiate a linkage strategy to connect workers from disadvantaged communities with jobs downtown.
 In addition, CRA will spend nearly $1 million on an initiative to retain and create new jobs in the eastside industrial area, particularly the produce, flower and garment industries, toy, seafood processing and related businesses. Activities could include land assembly, construction or rehabilitation of facilities as well as support for development of job training programs.
 Outside downtown CRA will continue its successful loan programs aimed at keeping entertainment industry jobs in Hollywood and also helping property owners expand their businesses in historic buildings there. The agency also is acquiring and rehabilitating the historic Egyptian Theater.
 CRA in FY 94 will move forward with plans for new supermarkets at Adams and Vermont in the Hoover area and Pico and Alvarado in the Pico-Union district. CRA is proceeding with construction of a market at Vineland and Magnolia in North Hollywood.
 The agency also will invest in a new commercial office complex and a community marketplace in Watts and assist with industrial development in the Los Angeles Harbor Industrial Center, a redevelopment project in Wilmington.
 CRA will help underwrite the costs of an array of community facilities and public improvements. These run the gamut from investing $1.6 million toward a new branch library in Watts to paying for new street lighting in the older Adams-Normandie neighborhood, residential rehabilitation and public improvements in the eastside, and a new cultural center in Chinatown. The agency also will spend nearly $7 million on child care facilities and the L.A.'s BEST after school education enrichment program.
 There are 17 redevelopment projects and three neighborhood revitalization projects spread throughout Los Angeles from the harbor and Watts to downtown, eastside, Hollywood and North Hollywood.
 Redevelopment programs in these areas along with citywide housing and child care are financed through a variety of mechanisms including grants, bond sales, trusts, program income and tax increment revenue.
 Commissioners expect to transmit the budget to the mayor and City Council by mid-March for their review and approval. It will then be sent back to the CRA board for agency adoption later this spring.
 -0- 3/4/93
 /CONTACT: Marc Littman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, 213-977-1951/


CO: Community Redevelopment Agency ST: California IN: SU:

JB-KJ -- LA025 -- 8204 03/04/93 15:10 EST
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