The mayor's plan is called "Housing That Works" and is afive-year program to "make Los Angeles a more affordable place ofmiddle class families to live and work," according to the mayor'sannouncement last week. The plan call for the city to invest $200million a year for five years from a number of sources—augmented bya commitment of $700 million over five years from EnterpriseCommunity Partners, a Columbia, MD-based nonprofit with 25 years ofexperience in the community development and affordable housingfield. With leverage, the city's commitment alone would produce $5billion worth of housing, according to the mayor's proposal.

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Ernesto Vasquez, a partner with the Irvine-based MVE &Partners architecture firm, suggests that transit villages likethose envisioned in the mayor's plan can be designed to attractpeople out of Downtown to enjoy night life or weekend jaunts. Hepoints out that the Gold Line has the potential to "become thegateway to East Los Angeles" and draw people to developments alongthe way. "It is a mistake to think about traffic just goingDowntown. There is a large population downtown that could travelout as well," Vasquez says.

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"You want to create communities that thrive 18 hours a day,seven day a week," Vasquez continues. "To do that, you want anelement of retail, you want restaurants, you want some commercialspace. You want to create transit hubs that attract people."

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Vasquez designed the 250,000-sf Fruitvale Village mixed-usetransit stop on the BART line, in Oakland, and he played a key rolein designing Mariachi Plaza, a proposed pedestrian-friendly housingdevelopment on the Gold Line in Boyle Heights. The FruitvaleVillage development converted BART parking lots into atransit-oriented community, and has become something of an iconwithin the mass transit and urban planning communities as adevelopment that reinvigorated a dead urban space.

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City officials says that Villaraigosa's "Housing That Works"proposal represents the first time that all housing and planningdepartments are coming together in a coordinated effort, with onestrategy to invest in affordable housing. The 20,000 affordablehomes would be double the number of units constructed since thebeginning of the mayor's time in office.

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Another component of "Housing That Works" involves shifting thecity's strategy from managing homelessness to moving people out ofit. The plan funds 2,200 permanent housing units where homeless menand women would be connected to social services. Another part ofthe plan is designed to protect L.A.'s homes and neighborhoods byaddressing the foreclosure crisis through a program called the theNeighborhood Stabilization Initiative.

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