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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Nearly $1M Raised for LAPD Recruit Rent Subsidy Fund

Nearly $1 million has been raised in two months for a new fund to subsidize rents for Los Angeles Police Department recruits, close to the $1.2 million needed to start the flow of subsidies.

Steve Soboroff, a longtime business and civic leader who has been a Los Angeles police commissioner for nine years and who launched the rent subsidy initiative, said in an interview with the Business Journal last week that $995,000 had been raised through May 24, mostly from executives in the real estate and finance industries.

Soboroff said that he had preliminary commitments from several more potential donors that he expects will take the fund past the $1.2 million mark within a few days. If that occurs, he said, the subsidies could begin immediately.

“We’ve got a crisis going on right now,” Soboroff said. “City leaders and candidates are calling for the hiring of more officers – some candidates saying as many as 1,500 officers. But in reality, we are losing 300 officers a year because they cannot afford to live here. We need to add this quiver to our recruiting as soon as possible.”

Soboroff said no funds have been forthcoming from government at any level to help offset the high cost of housing for LAPD recruits. With a starting salary of about $70,000, new recruits can afford to pay roughly $1,500 in rent each month, Soboroff said. But rents for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles generally range between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, leaving a gap of $1,000 or more. The subsidy program is designed to provide up to $1,000 per month, either in direct payments to recruits or to landlords. Each tenant would pay the subsidized rental rate for two years.

In total, the aim is to raise $4.8 million to provide rental subsidies for 200 LAPD recruits over three years. In year one, $1.2 million would be allocated for 100 recruits; in year two, another $1.2 million would go toward those recruits and $1.2 million would aid a second batch of 100 recruits. Year three would see the final $1.2 million paid out for that second group of recruits.

The details on whether recruits or landlords would receive the payments are still being worked out, Soboroff said. Much will depend on whether payments to recruits would be considered taxable income. “We definitely don’t want to tax recruits,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, not all recruits would receive the subsidies. The LAPD will conduct a basic screening to exclude recruits who move into a residence already owned or rented by family members or who have substantial supplemental income.

Soboroff said last week that the fund has received two donations of $240,000 each: one from billionaires and West Los Angeles-based agribusiness giant Wonderful Co. founders Stewart and Lynda Resnick, and the other from Casey Wasserman, chief executive of Westwood-based Wasserman (formerly Wasserman Media Group).

He said apartment developer and owner Geoffrey Palmer had contributed $120,000. Another $120,000 came from Soboroff himself, through his affiliation with the downtown-based Weingart Foundation.

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