Commentary

08/23/2016  by John Guenther

VIDEO: California’s affordable housing crisis from residents’ perspective

California's housing crisis is increasingly putting the squeeze on more people across the economic spectrum, as shown by rising homelessness, more people living in poverty, and more middle-class workers spending a growing chunk of their income on housing.

Another striking example of the affordability problem made the rounds recently after a Palo Alto planning commissioner published her resignation letter saying she and her husband would be moving to Santa Cruz because even their combined incomes as a tech lawyer and software engineer weren't enough to afford living in the pricey area. The median price of a single-family home for Santa Clara county is close to $1 million.

If well-paid Californians in the middle-income bracket are having a hard time with housing costs, what are low-income families in communities across the state feeling?

In the video above, we talked to two Californians about what getting themselves into affordable housing meant for them. We also asked Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, to provide some big picture numbers on the housing crisis.

No less important is housing the workforce that power the major industries in all regions of the state. A Monterey Bay area agricultural company recently experienced a workforce shortage when farm workers were unable to follow work because of high cost of housing. The company's solution was to build their own workforce housing in the form of an affordable apartment complex nearby.

You can read more about regional gaps in affordable housing in our series on the crisis. The California Economic Summit, organized by CA Fwd and the California Stewardship Network, this year created an action plan to address the challenge of building one million more homes over the next 10 years. To get that done, team members are pressing for a broad, “all of the above” strategy that will unleash the market and increase supply of both affordable and market-rate housing close to jobs and transit.

"No single policy action—from state housing bonds to new tax credits to streamlined regulations—can produce this amount of housing," wrote Stephen Levy, director and senior economist for the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. "What will be required, instead, is an “all of the above” strategy, supported by the broadest possible coalition, with leadership at the highest levels of state and local government. I am happy to support public funding for subsidized housing—and to remove local policy barriers standing in the way of building below-market homes. But for the broader market to benefit—and for home prices to come down for the rest of us—we also need to speak up for policies that improve the climate for market-rate housing."

The Summit’s Housing Action Team is working on a set of fiscal, land use, and regulatory incentives that can address the full scope of the state’s housing challenges. The Summit plans to work with lawmakers to push these ideas forward this year and in 2017.

The Summit's 2016 annual statewide meeting will be held December 13-14 at the Sacramento Convention Center and is expected to attract hundreds of state and regional private, public and civic leaders from across California.

Find more information about the Summit on CAeconomy.org. To participate and stay up-to-date with Summit news, sign up here.

Categories: California Economic Summit

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