Housing shortages are not a new thing in California. California has suffered from housing shortages since the 1970s. By 2018, the shortfall was estimated to be at around 3 – 4 million.
This shortfall is at all levels of affordability but especially so for low- and moderate- income people. According to the annual report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the national rise in homelessness between 2018 and 2019 was 2.7 percent, but in California, which is struggling with out-of-reach housing costs and intractable fights over affordable housing construction, it grew by a staggering 16.4 percent, making it the third highest in the country. 20 percent of the Californian population is now living in poverty and high housing costs in urban centers has led to displacement and continued urban sprawl. According to Zillow, the median price of a Californian home is now almost the highest in the country.
As California’s population continues to grow, the state struggles to provide enough housing. To keep up with expected growth, housing production needs to double. And to prevent further price increases and reduce rents, production would have to quadruple over the next decade. This is an enormous problem. A number of causes have been cited as the root of the problem including density restrictions, the high cost of land, NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard) or residents who oppose new construction, the high cost of construction, and cities that instead of encouraging residential development favor commercial and retail development to bring higher tax revenue.
The Californian legislature has passed several bills in an attempt to address this issue, but the magnitude of the problem requires even more. Changes to zoning regulations to permit higher density, faster development approvals and better ways to involve stakeholders would all influence the production of new housing units positively. Lower construction costs achieved through manufacturing or by preserving existing buildings would help as well.
Heather Hood, VP at Enterprise Community Partners, is fully immersed in the affordable housing crisis, working to help solve it in Northern California. She’s written influential pieces on housing issues, helped to create technical assistance programs and co-chaired Oakland’s Housing Cabinet.
Listen in to my conversation with Heather to hear an expert’s take on the housing crisis.
Image ©Google 2020