By Cristy Lytal
When the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asked Professor Richard K. Green to join its Tenant Protections Working Group, he was ready to be of service.
“My parents raised me to care about doing public service… and it’s better to be part of the [solution] than rage against it,” said Green, who directs the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, and serves as chair of the Department of Policy Analysis and Real Estate at the USC Price School of Public Policy.
The working group will make recommendations for tenant protections in unincorporated L.A. County, which has become increasingly unaffordable for its approximately one million residents. While college graduates continue to flock to Los Angeles, people without college degrees have begun leaving in favor of more affordable areas.
“People are finally figuring out that housing is a real problem here, and they’re looking for answers,” Green said. “And unfortunately, there are answers that can make things worse instead of better. And my contribution to all of this might be to prevent mistakes.”
As the sole academic appointed to the working group, Green hopes that he will be able to lend his knowledge of the data and research on the impact of rent control and housing policy. He is the co-author, with Stephen Malpezzi, of A Primer on U.S. Housing Markets and Housing Policy, a widely read book that explains the economics of housing policy for a general audience.
“I think my experience on those things is why they asked me to participate in this group,” said Green, who was appointed by L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
Fellow members of the group include professionals working in legal aid and services, nonprofit and for-profit real estate development, finance, among other related areas.
Together, the group will consider ways to mitigate the affordability crisis in unincorporated Los Angeles County. The most obvious strategy is rent control legislation. Another approach is value capture, which involves developers receiving zoning rights in exchange for contributing to a fund that subsidizes rents.
Green acknowledges that these types of tenant protections are key parts to the solution. However, he also explained: “Ultimately, we don’t solve this if we don’t build a lot more housing.”