Doing something – anything – to appear to address the affordable housing crisis is at the top of Legislative Leaders minds.   Housing is an incredibly important issue to our association and the lack of supply, inability to keep up with demand, and the increase in prices that come along with that, must be addressed.

The median California home is now priced 2.5 times higher than the median national home.  Extremely high housing prices have caused home ownership in our state to tank – with just over half of California households owning their homes—the third lowest rate in the country. At the same times rents have soared.  Statewide, the median rental price for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,400, but the costs in urban areas can be more than double the statewide average.  Families are being priced out of certain market, are being forced to move further away from job-centers, and homelessness is increasing due to the lack of affordability.

The reasons why California has gotten into this situation are many.

The biggest driver for increases in housing costs is that the price of land, especially along the coast, had gone through the roof.  Regulations, lawsuits, labor shortages, increased material expense and labor costs, complicated land use laws, are all also pointed to by builders as reasons why supply has been choked off.

Many in the legislature acknowledge privately that these reasons are, indeed, retarding development.  However, disentangling this Gordian Knot of issues will take a lot of political courage, force difficult policy discussion and decisions, and will take a level of give and take with powerful interests, that is currently not happening.  At this point the Legislature is focusing on measures that will focus some public money to affordable housing programs and an attempt at reform that may actually make the cost of construction more expensive in trade for a small modicum of regulatory relief.

That is not to say we don’t support focusing funds on affordable housing programs, nor do we dislike incremental reforms to regulation, but we are concerned that there is not a more serious effort to address the core issues that have driven prices up so much.

The CALmatters website has taken a look into the issue and lays out some basic facts about the issue that should be more widely understood.  We highly recommend reading this article by clicking here.

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