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Newsroom

  • The Real Deal: LA’s home prices are soaring and homes are flying off the market

    The news isn’t good for Los Angeles home hunters. New data shows that prices keep going up and homes keep flying off the market. The report from Pacific Union International found that the median price of a home price across the brokerage’s markets stood at $910,000 in March, about 14 percent higher than the same period last year. The data spans homes from the San Gabriel Valley to the Westside and San Fernando Valley. The rise in prices is largely because of a lack of supply, according to Pacific Union’s chief economist, Selma Hepp. “The last time we saw this level was in 2013, one of the strongest years for prices in L.A., and the inventory is about half the level it was then,” Hepp said. Competition for homes is tight across the city, the data found. Homes are selling in around 30 days, almost one week less than they did last year. And about 45 percent of homes sold above the asking price, up from 38 percent a year ago.

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  • Washington Post: HUD Secretary Ben Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

    U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Wednesday proposed raising the amount that low-income families are expected to pay for rent — tripling it for the poorest households — as well as making it easier for property owners to demand work requirements for those receiving federal housing subsidies. The move to overhaul how rental subsidies are calculated would affect 4.7 million families relying on federal housing assistance. The proposal legislation would require congressional approval. “There is one inescapable imperative driving this reform effort,” Carson said in a call with reporters. “The current system isn’t working very well. Doing nothing is not an option.” Tenants generally pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent or a public housing agency minimum rent — which is capped at $50 a month for the poorest families. The administration’s proposal sets the family monthly rent contribution at 35 percent of gross income, or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage. Under the proposal, the cap for the poorest families would rise to about $150 a month — three times higher than the current minimum. About 712,000 households would see their rents rise to the new monthly minimum of $150, HUD officials said.

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  • San Francisco Business Times: Mayor Farrell picks up the housing baton, 650 Cal fills up, homes to replace KFC, and more in this week’s real estate digest

    S.F. Mayor vows to speed up housing construction

    San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell plans to carry on his predecessor’s push to make it easier to build housing in the city. Former Mayor Ed Lee – who died suddenly in December – had previously issued an executive directive to streamline city functions such as issuing building permits and reducing public meetings to win approval for a project. Farrell submitted legislation this week to build on that policy. “We cannot let red tape and bureaucracy prevent us from helping our families and residents,” Mayor Farrell said in a statement. “With this legislation, we are ensuring that mine and Mayor Lee’s shared vision of more housing for everyone becomes a reality.” The proposed plan would cut down on the amount of time city staff has to spend on new projects, reduce multiple city hearings for proposals and eliminate public hearings altogether for housing developments that are 100 percent dedicated for low-income residents. Projects will still be vetted and reviewed by the Planning Commission, but the number of public meetings will go down significantly.

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  • NBC Los Angeles: Group Seeks to Repeal California’s Restrictions on Rent Control

    The debate over how to get relief from skyrocketing rents in California is likely to go before the voters in November. A campaign to lift restrictions on rent control says it now has enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot. Signatures were collected by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). The group claims the housing crisis needs to be fixed, and rent control is the answer. Vanessa Bulnes of ACCE has lived in Oakland for more than 30 years and says renters need relief now. “Its heartbreaking,” she said. “So many people of color get displaced in the city of Oakland that they helped build, and I’ve seen that rents are so high, those people can’t afford to live here and end up in tent cities.” The group will hold a rally outside Oakland City Hall at noon Monday. Rallies also are slated for Sacramento and Los Angeles.

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  • Santa Cruz Sentinel: Santa Cruz rent control campaign on track to make ballot, organizers say

    Costanza Rampini is collecting signatures to put the Santa Cruz rent control measure on the fall ballot. The 32-year-old adjunct professor at San Jose State has spent the better part of her efforts knocking on doors, standing in front of coffee shops and grocery stores. She knows how important the measure is to people who rent because there have been times where she spent 80 percent of her income on rent. “I don’t make the money of an engineer, so it’s been really hard,” she said. She’s one of 100 to 150 volunteers pounding the pavement each week with Movement for Housing Justice, a grassroots campaign aimed implementing a rent control measure for the City of Santa Cruz. Through Rampini’s nine years in Santa Cruz — as a student who earned a doctorate in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz and now as a lecturer who teaches climate change — she’s rented rooms and seen the landscape slowly shift. When she arrived, her rent for a room in a three-bedroom home was $875. She saw her rent climb higher and higher each year until her landlord finally asked for close to $1,300 a month.

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  • Mother Jones: Farmworkers Are Living 20 to a House in California’s Bountiful Salinas Valley

    If you’re making a salad to go along with your dinner tonight, you should probably thank the farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley, who produce about two-thirds of the country’s lettuce and much of its strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli. When they head home to meet their families this evening, many of them won’t have the space to cook their own meals: A long-standing housing crisis has likely pushed tens of thousands of farmworkers into cramped and dangerous living conditions without adequate access to kitchens and bathrooms, according to a housing survey released Thursday by the California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) and the California Coalition for Rural Housing.

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  • Vox: There’s no good alternative to building more homes in expensive cities

    The sweeping land use reform bill introduced recently by California state Sen. Scott Weiner, a San Francisco Democrat, died in committee this week, bringing to an end an ambitious plan to change zoning in broad swaths of the state by allowing four- to five-story buildings near all rail transit stations and major bus corridors. Without it or some comparably sweeping reform, California will continue to suffer from exorbitant housing costs that contribute to the highest poverty rate in the nation when judged by the Supplemental Poverty Measure. A natural reaction to this on the part of many people who are either comfortable, reasonably affluent California homeowners or else enjoying life in the South or the Midwest, is to wonder what all the fuss is about. Sure, California — and the entire Boston-to-Washington corridor — may be expensive, but if people don’t want to pay the price, there are plenty of other places in the country to live. Even many Californians who are struggling with rent burdens may wonder why the state should bother trying a supply-side solution. After all, if you already live in California, then by definition you already have a place to live. Stricter rent control and eviction protections could be as good or even better for you than rolling the dice on the consequences of a construction boom.

     

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  • Washington Post: Democrats’ Housing Problem

    Since the late 1950s, economists have paid attention to “housing starts” — the number of times in a month that ground is broken to build a home. In recent years, however, economists have started to pay closer attention to something we might call “housing stops”: the thicket of laws and regulations that make it harder for communities to build. Since at least 1950, notes housing economist Joseph Gyourko, there has been a growing price divide between low-cost areas where housing is plentiful and cheap, and desirable areas where housing is scarce and expensive. In 1950, housing in the most expensive metropolitan areas cost twice what it did in an average market. By 2000, it was four times as expensive, and Gyourko expects that difference to keep growing. Some of the differences are just high demand meeting physical limits — many of those cities are hard up against one body of water or another. And their ability to spread outward in other directions is constrained by highway congestion, as well as the length of time that people are willing to commute to work each day.

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  • The Sacramento Bee: If the California Legislature can’t compromise on housing, rent control is in our future

    Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, left, talks with Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, at the Capitol.Members of the Legislature certainly talk a good game about solving the housing crisis, insisting they’re eager to speed up residential construction, spare cash-strapped tenants from surging rental prices and stop poor people from sliding into homelessness. But talk is as cheap as the cost of inaction is high. And on Tuesday, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee managed to accomplish both by voting to kill a bill that could have made a real dent in the housing crisis and put a much-needed damper on a statewide ballot initiative to expand rent control by repealing the 1995 Costa-Hawkins act. Only four members of the 13-member Senate Transportation and Housing Committee voted for Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 827, which would have forced cities to allow more apartment buildings to be built near transit stops. Democrats voted against it, as did Republicans. Their biggest gripe? That SB 827 had the nerve to wrest control away from local officials around the state, bypassing strict zoning codes that shun density by only allowing the construction of single-family homes near train and bus stops. This is especially true in cities along the coast, where rental prices happen to be the highest and housing is in the shortest supply.
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  • Courthouse News: Majority of LA County Residents Fear Being Priced Out of Homes

    As the price of housing in California spirals out of reach, more than half of Los Angeles County residents fear being priced out of living in the region, and younger residents are even more apprehensive. Fifty-five percent of LA County residents said they, a close friend or family member have considered moving from their neighborhood in the last few years due to rising housing costs, according to the 2018 Quality of Life Index. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and health accessibility advocates The California Endowment, which partnered on the project, said the response represents an 8 percent increase from the 2017 Index. The fears are more palpable among younger respondents. Sixty-eight percent of 18 to 29-year-olds, 73 percent of 30 to 39-year-olds, and 65 percent of 40 to 49-year-olds say that they or someone close to them has considered moving out of their neighborhoods due to housing costs. “Historically, young people, especially in Los Angeles, could look forward to a great future, but today they have the highest level of negativity and anxiety, especially between the ages of 18-29,” said UCLA’s Zev Yaroslavsky. “This should be a matter of concern to all of us.”

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