Increasing rent and the scarcity of affordable homes in California is pushing millions of people into poverty; and in some cases, into the street.
Homelessness is rising. Homeownership is at 1940’s levels.
Of the ten least affordable counties in the US, seven are in California.
“California is in the most intense housing crisis in our state’s history,” says state Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “For the millions of Californians who are suffering, Sacramento needs to act. There is no silver bullet to the housing crisis.”
Reasons for the crisis include:
• The expiration of a program that allocated $1 billion per year to redevelopment agencies
• Development restrictions
• California has used up $5 billion in affordable housing bonds passed in 2002 and 2006
• Lack of new homes being built
“The catastrophe is real,” says Ray Pearl, director of an affordable-housing advocacy group called the California Housing Consortium.
“There are low-income Californians on the brink of homelessness. You can’t pick up a paper that doesn’t mention homelessness on the rise across the state. I think we are finally at a point where it equals action.”
California would need to build 180,000 new homes each year to satisfy its massive population. The state was building about 160,000 in prior years, but is now building only 80,000. According to the Consortium, the state would need to build 1.5 million units to fully satisfy the state’s lowest-income bracket.
“Without serious changes, the phenomenon that’s becoming the norm in Silicon Valley – people with decent jobs forced by housing costs to live in their cars, trucks, or RVs – will become a statewide norm,” warns The San Diego Union-Tribune’s editorial board.
Lawmakers have introduced more than 100 housing-related bills so far this year. One of the most talked about is SB2, which would allocate $300 million per year for low-income housing.
Lawmakers are also hoping to strengthen California’s Housing Accountability Act, which prevents cities from turning away development for arbitrary reasons (like rich people who don’t want to live near poor people).
The Assembly is currently negotiating with Governor Jerry Brown to locate funding and ease building restrictions. A vote on housing legislation may come as early as next week.
Editor’s note: This won’t be solved by regulation and government programs, they need less, not more. To fix this problem California needs to focus on transportation, to connect lower cost areas to higher cost. This is an age old problem, lower income areas that are integrally attached to higher income areas become the next higher income areas.