Rent drops forecast for central, coastal portions of L.A. County

If the past year is any indication, apartment rents will continue dropping in central and coastal portions of Los Angeles County through the next year, with rent hikes occurring everywhere else in the Southern California, a University of Southern California multifamily forecast said Monday.

For example, the Koreatown-Mid City portions of L.A. will see rent decline 1.2% over the next year, while west Riverside and San Bernardino counties will see rent hikes of 9-10%.

The USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, which publishes the Casden Multifamily Forecast each year, warned its predictions are uncertain because the data are “based on a previous year unlike any other previous year.”

The forecast, which normally comes out in the fall, was postponed because forecasting at a time of uncertainly is problematic and possibly misleading, the report said.

Lusk also predicted that despite billions of dollars in rental assistance, many tenants still will owe thousands in back rent, leading to evictions for some. Eight percent in L.A. and

Orange counties reported recently they are “housing insecure.”

“We still have loads and loads and loads of uncertainty,” Lusk Director Richard Green said during an online panel discussion before releasing the report.

Among the unknowns facing the region’s landlords are whether jobs and amenities will come back to downtown and central L.A. once the pandemic ends, or whether a pandemic-inspired migration to less urban parts of the region are going to be temporary or long-lasting.

Citing U.S. Census figures for the past several years, the report noted that working-class and low-income families are leaving Los Angeles and Orange counties for the Inland Empire, other parts of California as well as Nevada, Arizona and Texas.

Migration to Texas is up about 10%, Green said. Harris County, home to Houston, for example, built 60,000 homes last year, compared with less than 30,000 built in L.A. County.

“Harris County built double the number of housing than L.A. County with 40% of the population,” Green said. “People are leaving California because there’s no place for people to live.”

The forecast predicted rent would drop in four L.A. County submarkets: Koreatown- Mid City (-1.2%), Inglewood (-1.1%), Coastal Communities and Beverly Hills (-1%) and downtown (-0.7%).

Gains of 1% or less were predicted for Burbank-Glendale (0.6%), the rest of the San Fernando Valley (0.7%) and the Long Beach-South Bay area (1.1%).

Northern valley gains still are expected to be small: An increase of 2.1% is expected in Pasadena, 3.1% in the San Gabriel Valley, and 3.4% in Palmdale, Lancaster and Santa Clarita.

Rents in four Orange County submarkets are forecast to rise in the 3-6% range with north county rents rising 3.1%, west-central rents rising 3.7%, coastal rents rising 4.4% and south county rents rising 6.2%.

Eviction bans protected most renters from losing their homes during the pandemic, the report said, but many tenants still owe substantial back rent.

Federal and state rental assistance will help pay off much of that debt.

But U.S. Census figures from late April show about 459,000 households in Los Angeles and Orange counties, or 8%, consider themselves “housing insecure,” meaning that are behind on their rent or mortgage payment or think they are about to be, the report said.

“Evictions of even a fraction of people in such straights will push up vacancy rates,” the report said.

GOP Leader McCarthy opposes Jan. 6 commission ahead of vote

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, ALAN FRAM and LISA MASCARO

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that he won’t support a proposal to form an independent, bipartisan commission to study the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, almost certainly eroding GOP support ahead of a vote and positioning his party as opposed to investigations of the attack.

McCarthy said he wanted the new panel to look beyond the violent uprising by supporters loyal to Donald Trump, who were trying to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election. McCarthy and other Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have pushed to have the new commission also investigate other violent acts, including protests last summer in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

Calling the commission “duplicative and potentially counterproductive,” McCarthy said that given the “shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation.”

McCarthy’s opposition all but ensures this week’s vote on the bipartisan bill to form the panel will have less Republican support in the House, and dims its chances in the evenly divided Senate — threatening the commission’s chances as Democrats say it is essential to reckoning with the violent attack that interrupted electoral count.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called McCarthy’s opposition “cowardice” and said he doesn’t want to find the truth. She released a February letter from the GOP leader in which he asked for an even split of Democrats and Republican commissioners, equal subpoena power and no predetermined findings or conclusions listed in the legislation. The bipartisan legislation accommodates all three of those requests, she said.

“Leader McCarthy won’t take yes for an answer,” she said. “The American people expect and deserve the truth about what happened on January 6th in a manner that strengthens our democracy and ensures that January 6th never happens again.”

Ahead of the vote, which could come as soon as Wednesday, the Biden administration said it supports the legislation and that the American people deserve “such a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions.”

Modeled after the investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the bill would establish an independent 10-member commission that would make recommendations for preventing another insurrection. The panel would have to issue a final report by Dec. 31.

The GOP leader’s dissent comes as some other Republicans have started to downplay the severity of the attack, further aligning themselves with Trump who had encouraged his supporters to head to Capitol Hill that day to fight for his presidency. Numerous Republican lawmakers joined McCarthy in speaking against the measure early Tuesday during a meeting of House Republicans, according to one Republican familiar with the private session and granted anonymity to discuss it.

Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, who drafted the legislation with the panel’s Democratic Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, defended the proposed commission at the closed-door meeting Tuesday, the person said.

“I recognize there are differing views on this issue, which is an inherent part of the legislative process and not something I take personally,” Katko, R-N.Y., said in a statement. “However, as the Republican Leader of the Homeland Security Committee, I feel a deep obligation to get the answers U.S. Capitol Police and Americans deserve and ensure an attack on the heart of our democracy never happens again.”

The bill’s path forward is uncertain in the 50-50 Senate, where some Republicans have said they don’t think it’s needed. Democrats would need at least 10 Republican senators to pass it.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell objected to the initial proposal by Pelosi, saying it should be bipartisan and also investigate last summer’s riots, but has been quiet since.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, has said he doesn’t think a commission is necessary because it wouldn’t work fast enough to make changes. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Tuesday that he thinks a commission would be “worthwhile” but that there shouldn’t be limits on the time period investigated.

The House bill does not set specific limits on the commission but calls for “the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement,” along with the “the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.”

The legislation does not mention Trump and language included in Pelosi’s first draft that mentioned white supremacy was removed in the final compromise bill.

Some Senate Republicans have signaled that they would support the commission. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said that given the violent attack, “we should understand what mistakes were made and how we could prevent them from happening again in the future.”

Romney said the riots in the wake of Floyd’s death were “of a different nature” and “the key thing that needs to be associated with this effort is the attack on this building.”

In the House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he still expects a “significant number” or Republicans to vote for the bill, which will be considered alongside separate legislation to pay for security improvements. But some in the GOP have shied away from discussing the facts of the attack.

At a House hearing last week investigating the siege, one member denied there was an insurrection at all while another said a woman who was shot and killed by police while trying to break into the House chamber was “executed.” Many other Republicans have tried to change the subject, saying Democrats should focus on the violence in cities instead.

McCarthy’s opposition also comes as some have suggested that he could be subpoenaed by the panel because he talked to Trump as the insurrection was happening. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was booted out of GOP leadership last week for her criticism of Trump’s lies about the election being stolen, suggested as much in an interview with ABC News, saying she “wouldn’t be surprised” if McCarthy was investigated as part of the probe. Cheney has supported the commission.

Cheney and Katko are two of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the insurrection for telling his supporters that day to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat. The Senate later acquitted him.

___

Associated Press writer Steven Sloan contributed to this report.

US is giving away four lighthouses – with a catch

By William J. Kole | Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Dreading your eventual return to the office? The federal government is making available — for free — some waterfront workspaces with killer views that are sure to entice. But there’s a catch.

The General Services Administration says the U.S. Coast Guard has decided it no longer needs four of the nation’s most picturesque lighthouses, and it’s inviting certain types of organizations to take them over at no cost.

The GSA, which has been getting rid of its large inventory of obsolete lighthouses, said Thursday that Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, Rhode Island — America’s third-oldest lighthouse, and a beacon that defeated British forces torched out of spite in 1779 as they withdrew from the new nation — is up for grabs.

So are Watch Hill Light in Westerly, Rhode Island, not far from Taylor Swift’s beachside mansion; Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light in Ohio; and Duluth Harbor North Pierhead Light in Minnesota.

Conditionally, that is: The government says it’ll make the historic lighthouses and their outbuildings available free of charge to federal, state and local agencies; nonprofit organizations; educational and community development agencies; or groups devoted to parks, recreation, culture, or historic preservation.

Beavertail Light “has been determined to be excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard,” which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, GSA spokesperson Paul Hughes said in a statement.

Beavertail Light has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1977. The 64-foot (19.5-meter) granite lighthouse faces south where Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound meet, offering drop-dead-gorgeous ocean vistas.

All that remains of the original lighthouse is its foundation; it was constructed in 1749 and burned down by British soldiers leaving the Newport area in 1779. The current lighthouse was built in 1856 along with six additional structures totaling 5,171 square feet (480 square meters.)

Hughes said the government is asking interested groups to formally express their interest in the next 60 days, and the National Park Service will review the applications.

Perched on a peninsula, Watch Hill Light is a three-story granite block tower with a cast iron and glass lantern on top. It’s attached to a two-story brick keepers dwelling built in 1935. Outbuildings on the 4.5-acre complex include an oil house built in 1855-1856.

Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light, built in 1911 to guide ships in Lake Erie approaching the Port of Cleveland, housed a Coast Guard Station until 1976. It’s best known for its annual transformation into a majestic ice castle when winter temperatures freeze the surf that sprays its facade. A sister lighthouse, Cleveland Harbor East Pierhead Light, was sold a few years ago for $10,000.

Duluth Harbor North Pierhead Light, built in 1910 and perched at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior, also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

$250-$300 monthly childcare payments start for millions of families in July

By Josh Boak | The Associated Press

The Treasury Department said Monday that 39 million families are set to receive monthly child payments beginning on July 15.

The payments are part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which expanded the child tax credit for one year and made it possible to pre-pay the benefits on a monthly basis. Nearly 88% of children are set to receive the benefits without their parents needing to take any additional action.

Qualified families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under 6 and up to $250 per month for children between the ages of 6 and 17. The child tax credit was previously capped at $2,000 and only paid out to families with income tax obligations after they filed with the IRS.

But for this year, couples earning $150,000 or less can receive the full payments on the 15th of each month, in most cases by direct deposit. The benefits total $3,600 annually for children under 6 and $3,000 for those who are older. The IRS will determine eligibility based on the 2019 and 2020 tax years, but people will also be able to update their status through an online portal. The administration is also setting up another online portal for non-filers who might be eligible for the child tax credit.

The president has proposed an extension of the increased child tax credit through 2025 as part of his $1.8 trillion families plan. Outside analysts estimate that the payments could essentially halve child poverty. The expanded credits could cost roughly $100 billion a year.

Rich Americans likelier to move, reversing pre-COVID migration data

By Alex Tanzi | Bloomberg

High-earning Americans are now likelier to move house than low earners in a reversal of the usual pattern, according to new research, as the pandemic offers remote-work opportunities to white-collar employees.

The biggest jump in residential migration has come among workers earning more than $150,000, according to an analysis by Apartmentlist.com based on U.S. Census Bureau surveys. About 16% of that group relocated in the past year, up from 11.5% in 2019.

That’s a break from past data that shows a strong inverse relationship between moving and income, with high earners more likely to stay put, the report said.

A survey by the New York Federal Reserve backs Apartmentlist’s findings, showing households with incomes above $100,000 are more likely to move in the coming year.

Overall, the Apartmentlist study found the pandemic induced the first increase in U.S. migration for more than a decade, with 16% of Americans moving between April 2020 and April 2021, up from 14% the previous year.

With higher-earning Americans leading the way, there could be implications for the geographical distribution of wealth as some well-paid jobs shift out of the biggest cities — a potential boost for smaller metropolitan areas.

Meanwhile younger people, who typically earn less, lack the flexibility to move — except back home. More Americans aged 18-35 are living with their parents than at any time since at least the 1960s, according to Census Bureau data from April. They’re also more likely to delay major life events like getting married and having children.