State lawmakers can pass all kinds of bills aimed at building more affordable housing. But they can’t repeal the fundamental law of supply and demand for desirable land. Land costs are what really drive up housing prices and make homeownership increasingly beyond the reach of so many Californians. Rentals are virtually impossible, too, in attractive regions along the coast, especially San Francisco.
U.S. new-home sales fell sharply in July, providing fresh evidence that a shortage of housing inventory is depleting activity across all segments of the market.
California’s economy grew robustly during the past decade even as state-imposed environmental standards to combat climate-change helped lower greenhouse gas emissions. But authors of a report released Tuesday cautioned that the future might not be so rosy: They found that transportation-related emissions have begun to rise due in part to longer commute times for California workers who can’t afford to live in the cities where they work. The report cautioned that the affordable housing issue must be addressed by policymakers for the state to meet its ambitious longer term emissions goals.
California’s high housing costs are driving poor and middle income people out of their housing like never before. While some are fleeing coastal areas for cheaper living inland, others are leaving the state altogether.
Homelessness is on the rise. California is home to 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 22 percent of its homeless people. Cities that have seen dramatic rent increases, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, attribute their spikes in homelessness directly to a state housing shortage that has led to an unprecedented affordability crisis.
Housing experts trace the problem back to the 1970s. Backlash began to arise – in coastal communities, in particular – from neighbors who opposed new housing in their neighborhoods.
Democratic state lawmakers aiming to ease California’s housing shortage say they are focused on three bills they estimate would generate $20 billion for affordable housing development over the next five years and lead to 70,000 new low-income apartments.
They acknowledge it won’t be enough to solve the state’s unprecedented housing problems. But Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon calls the package he and other lawmakers are working on “an important first step.” The Legislature begins the final month of the 2017 session today with housing atop its agenda.