Money from a new tax on real estate transactions and a state bond issue will, by official estimates, result in 77,000 new housing units over five years when merged with funds from nonprofit groups, private investors and tax credits for low-income projects.
That’s less than 20 percent of the state’s projected need for additional housing over that period – and it could be years before any of the promised new housing is available. The regulatory fast-tracking in other bills could go further toward filling the need, but no one knows for certain.
Meanwhile, the new tax on real estate paperwork and new mandates to use “prevailing wages” in projects would actually make new housing development even more expensive.
The housing package continues a syndrome one might call “half-a-loafism.”
The official federal poverty measure doesn’t take regional variations in the cost of living into account, so many experts don’t consider it to be the most accurate metric. It’s under “supplemental” poverty measures, dating back to the late 1960s, that California looks considerably different from the rest of the U.S.
Now, researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California and Stanford University are bringing even greater scrutiny to an item that’s consuming more and more of lower-income Californians’ resources: housing.
Their results are startling. When the researchers ran a model of the state’s poverty rate with every Californian bearing costs similar to those in Fresno County, the overall poverty rate declined dramatically — from about 21 percent to 14 percent. That’s nearly 2.4 million Californians who would no longer be in poverty.
The latest quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast, released Wednesday, estimates how much construction would be required to reduce home prices in the Golden State by even 10 percent, to roughly 2014 levels. “We find that to obtain a modest 10 percent reduction in price requires a little over 20 percent more housing,” economist Jerry Nickelsburg wrote in the forecast, which focused on the state’s economy. “Making housing affordable in California is difficult at best.”
Housing experts say it is the most ambitious move the state has taken in decades – and perhaps ever – to address the issue. They say it is “historic” in part because the state’s housing affordability crisis, with rising home values, skyrocketing rents and rampant tenant displacement, is unprecedented. As costs have grown since the recession, the state has done little until now.
But Californians should not expect the effects to be felt immediately. Even years down the road, the measures will not stop rents from increasing or home prices from trending upwards.
“It’s very hard to get enough housing built to lower the price,” Rosen said. “New funding may build several thousand units, but that’s very small compared to the size of the need. If we make it easier for developers to build housing, the market will be able to better keep pace with demand, and therefore we may be able to slow the rate of increase.”
It could take decades and cost billions to build enough housing to make even a modest dent in home prices in the Bay Area and across the state, a team of economists reported Wednesday.
The quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast casts doubt upon efforts in San Francisco and surrounding communities to lower the cost of living, suggesting that investments far beyond what is contemplated would be needed to stop folks from paying exorbitant prices for wallpapered shoeboxes within a scooter’s distance of San Francisco Bay.
Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the UCLA forecast team, said it would take 20 percent more housing to achieve a 10 percent reduction in prices. Such a reduction throughout California would bring costs down roughly to 2014 levels, he said, citing figures provided by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.