The Future of Housing in Los Angeles

Like most cities in the US today, Los Angeles doesn’t build enough housing to keep up with demand, a fact that has contributed to what is arguably the worst affordable housing crisis in the country. In a desperate attempt to ameliorate this housing shortage, California state housing regulators recently charged Los Angeles with a seemingly impossible task: zone for 255,000 new homes or forfeit billions of dollars in federal affordable housing grants. For housing advocates in Los Angeles, this challenge, daunting as it is, presents an opportunity to radically reimagine how the city houses its residents: given how built up the city already is, adding so many new homes will require the design of bold new housing typologies, not to mention visionary thinking around site-selection, implementation, and finance. This studio invites students in all departments to help housing advocates in Los Angeles solve this very real problem by creatively identifying how Los Angeles can get to 255,000 and reimagine housing in the process. Following an analysis of Los Angeles’s diverse housing stock (despite its historic obsession with the single-family house, Los Angeles is home to a staggering number of residential typologies and experiments), a survey of new approaches to housing, and an investigation into the causes and consequences of the housing shortage, students will create bold new propositions for the future of housing in Los Angeles. Starting at the scale of the city, we will zoom in to understand how proposed solutions work at the neighborhood, block, building, and unit scale. A field trip to Los Angeles is tentatively planned, during which we will hear from dozens of leading housing designers, developers, planners, policymakers, activists, and historians.