Aerial View of a Houses

 HOUSING

Proposed Objectives

These objectives are subject to ongoing input from, and ratification by, our members. Finalized objectives will be substantiated by accompanying policy proposals in our upcoming Policy Agenda.

Support local governments statewide in meeting their housing targets by specified dates, through a process that empowers and supports local stakeholders to drive successful planning, zoning and building decisions, and increases access to capital

Reduce/remove barriers to building 

Reduce barriers to purchase and rental

Increase access to public funding and local control

Promulgate statewide broadband deployment 

Context

Individuals and families of all ages and incomes should be able to feel safe and secure in homes they can afford, and that enable them to work, raise families, and contribute to their community. Data shows such conditions positively impact educational performance, wellness and family cohesion, and work productivity.


California needs more housing, of all housing types and accessible to all income levels, statewide. This includes enough apartments to absorb the growing numbers of young people who need the opportunity to live independently for the first time, enough homes available for young families who desire the same opportunities as earlier generations, and supportive downsizing opportunities for the burgeoning numbers of older adults who would welcome the opportunity to live in a smaller home if one were available at an affordable price. Elected officials must dramatically increase the rate at which they approve new housing developments, while paying attention to where building occurs, and to the impact on the fabric of the communities affected. 


Every eight years, the State assigns each region a housing needs allocation1 by income group, and each council of government then develops allocations for individual cities and counties within their region.2 While the recent Great Recession of 2008 depressed the market for housing construction, for decades the amount of housing produced has fallen well short of these targets for low-income households in particular (in some cases for reasons beyond their control, in others not). At the same time, the overall cost of living has continued to rise,3 while over the same period wages for the majority of workers have been stagnant.4 

While this clearly is an untenable combination of conditions, it is not new. Large numbers of Californians have been squeezed between the costs of living, including housing, and their ability to pay for decades. Prop 13 in 1978 was a response to rapidly increasing property values and taxes, considered 40 years ago to be intolerable. However, while residents have been forced to cope with rising cost burdens and accept living arrangements that are not in line with their preferences, many have remained housed – until recently. 

A decade after the Great Recession, the flow of new construction has failed to fully recover, just as a new generation needs to move into their own apartments and houses. Ever-rising costs and the absence of housing options near jobs, combined with stagnant wages, have finally started pushing people out of homes altogether. As many as 10% of California’s population has been dislodged statewide,5 forced to crash on couches, double-up in homes, or remain in their parents’ back bedroom. These conditions produce overcrowding, overpayment, and overly-long commutes, and a spike in real, highly visible, homelessness. 

 

Additionally, this impact is moving up the socio-economic ladder, negatively impacting economic and social decisions of more and more people throughout the state, and so becoming a “first-person” issue for ever-more voters and taxpayers as well as employers.

It took a long time to fall so far behind in housing availability,6 and it’s going to take time to catch up. Nonetheless, it’s critical to keep up the momentum; more housing, affordable to a range of incomes and throughout the state will improve educational, health and economic outcomes across the board. California’s leaders should be building where possible now, while removing obstacles to where they/we will build next. It is also critical that they take seriously the concerns of existing homeowners/voters/ taxpayers who understandably expect to have a say in how their communities address this vital need.

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[1] https://www.hcd.ca.gov/community-development/housing-element/index.shtml

[2] The current round of regional housing needs assessments includes two new components –allocations to reduce overcrowding and to reduce the number of households who are cost-burdened.

[3] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-cost-living-rising-many-100700664.html; https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/101314/what-does-current-cost-living-compare-20-years-ago.asp;, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cost-of-living-2018-increasing-at-fastest-rate-in-10-years/; https://www.marketwatch.com/story/despite-wage-growth-the-average-american-suffers-as-cost-of-living-rises-at-a-faster-pace-2019-01-10

[4] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/07/for-most-us-workers-real-wages-have-barely-budged-for-decades/

[5] https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/sites.usc.edu/dist/6/210/files/2019/08/HRB-6-How-Do-Shortages-Lead-to-Dislodgement-and-Disappearing-Renters.pdf

[6] https://lao.ca.gov/handouts/state_admin/2019/Housing-Homelessness-Challenges-022119.pdf; https://www.ppic.org/wp-content/uploads/californias-future-housing-january-2019.pdf (p. 2) (add more)

Indicative Resources

These links are included because the Collaborative considers some data or analysis in their body to be relevant, irrespective of the overall perspective or tone of the writing. They are far from exhaustive, and represent only a small fraction of the data and perspectives that shape our objectives.