Newsroom

Newsroom

  • 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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  • WSJ: Homebuilding Isn’t Keeping Up With Growth, Development Group Says

    America’s housing shortage is more wide-ranging than cloistered coastal markets, stretching from pricey locales such as California and Massachusetts to more surprising places, such as Arizona and Utah. Some 22 states and the District of Columbia have built too little housing to keep up with economic growth in the 15 years since 2000, resulting in a total shortage of 7.3 million units, according to research to be released Monday by an advocacy group for loosening building regulations.

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  • Noozhawk: What’s Next for ADUs?

    This week, the Santa Barbara City Council is expected to deliberate and vote on a local Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance. From the outside, this might appear to be just an arcane matter of land use policy, but in reality, it’s an important and difficult decision between concerns for preservation versus adaptation with long-range implications. The State of California has responded to the current housing crisis with a range of new laws that supersede the authority of local governments. Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, was quoted in The New York Times: “We can’t just plan for growth, we have to actually build.” With half or more of the developed land in our state built out in a low-density, suburban sprawl, it’s inevitable that changes to these areas will be required at some point in the future if we are to accommodate just a portion of the growing demand for housing within our state. One approach has been to encourage more large-scale developer housing projects. Senate Bill SB 827 proposed by state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco that is under consideration would significantly limit the authority of local governments to restrict development along transit corridors. This would be the large sledgehammer approach to development within limited areas and is feared by local leaders up and down the coast for its impacts on their communities.

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  • Mercury News: Experts: Urgent cures required for Bay Area housing, traffic ailments

    (4-13-2018 Campbell, CA) State Sen. Scott Wiener speaks at a Silicon Valley
Leadership Group Economic Forum in Campbell.  Out-of-the-box -- and urgent
-- remedies are required if the Bay Area and the rest of California can
begin to cure a forbidding array of ailments that can imperil the region's
economic health, experts urged during an economic conference on Friday.

George Avalos / Bay Area News GroupInnovative — and swift — remedies are required if the Bay Area and the rest of California can begin to cure a forbidding array of ailments poised to imperil the region’s economic health, experts urged during an economic conference Friday. “We have a housing crisis and we have a mobility crisis,” Alix Bockelman, deputy director of the Metroplitan Transportation Commission, said during one of several panels that held discussions, offered opinions and answered questions at the gathering. The 2018 Regional Economic Forum, sponsored by Silicon Valley Leadership Group, heard from numerous experts who outlined the worsening housing and traffic messes in the Bay Area and other parts of California. “Education is a challenge, transportation is a frustration, housing is a crisis,” Carl Guardino, president of the leadership group, told this news organization after the forum concluded. “Housing is by far the biggest impediment to our quality of life and our economic opportunities.”

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  • SF Examiner: Two low-income housing projects net 2015 bond funding

    San Francisco is shifting voter- approved housing bond money away from both an affordable housing project in the Excelsior due to delays and a senior housing project in Forest Hill following pushback from neighbors. Instead, the planned funding for those two projects will go toward a new effort at 88 Broadway on the northeast waterfront for 104 units for low- and middle-income families and a 96-unit project at 1296 Shotwell St. in the Mission District for low- income seniors. Both projects are expected to be completed by 2020. The details were announced in a mandated report released in March on the $310 million 2015 Affordable Housing General Obligation Bond, which was estimated to cost property owners about $7.21 per $600,000 of net assessed value in property taxes. The report comes as the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee is being asked to allow the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to allocate an additional $141 million of the bond, which is expected to be spent by September 2020. As of December, The City had issued $75 million of the $310 million bond, and spent $39 million while another $20 million is encumbered. The bond money pays for public, low-income and middle-income housing. Low-income housing is for those earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, and middle-income housing is for those earning between 121 percent and 175 percent of area median income. There is also funding specifically earmarked for the Mission neighborhood.

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  • Affordable Housing Finance: California Nonprofit Shows Its Strength

    In 2017, the nonprofit had a busy year, starting construction on nine developments with 156 affordable homes. The 53-year-old nonprofit focuses its work in eight counties—Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, and Tulare. “We’ve stuck to our knitting and still serve a specific footprint that we know well and that we’re known well in,” says Tom Collishaw, president and CEO. With much of the organization’s work in the agriculturally rich Central Valley, about 75% of Self-Help Enterprises’ new construction developments are occupied by farmworker families.  In a show of the organization’s increasing emphasis on energy efficiency, the nonprofit recently completed a zero-net energy retrofit of an approximately 30-year-old farmworker housing project that was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sec. 514 program. Located in a remote region of Madera County, the 56-unit Casas de la Vina underwent major energy improvements, including the installation of solar panels, low-flow water fixtures, LED lighting, and new windows. “All the improvements make it truly net-zero energy,” Collishaw says. “To our knowledge, it is the first time that anybody has done that with an older farmworker housing project with rental assistance.” The organization also broke ground on two new rental communities last year—the 44-unit Sierra Village in Dinuba and the 50-unit Palm Terrace in Lindsay. Both will be completed this year.

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  • Daily Journal: Housing crisis spurring a political awakening

    Knowing the pain of writing huge rent checks each month to live in the Bay Area during a housing crunch, Victoria Fierce is out to make communities opposing building new homes experience a similar financial burden. “I speak truth to power. I get in front of the dais and say ‘I will come after you, and it will hurt.’ And then they shrug it off. Then it hurts,” said Fierce, who helps operate the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund. Fierce, who has sued Bay Area cities such as Lafayette and Berkeley over housing opposition, is preparing to bring her organization’s fight to San Mateo following the City Council rejecting a proposal to build a 10-unit condominium building off El Camino Real. The Oakland software professional turned legal housing expert is part of a energized group fed up with the local housing market refining that is refining its tactics and formalizing strategies to promote residential development. “We have political power and we are not afraid to use it to seek our goal,” said Fierce, who considers herself a YIMBY — an acronym representing Yes In My Backyard, or an alternative answer to the traditional call of “not in my backyard,” from property owners often fighting housing development in their neighborhood due to concerns over threats to their quality of life. Development critics have historically been recognized as NIMBYs.

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  • Press Telegram: Habitat L.A. celebrates ‘Beloved Community’ by building homes in Long Beach neighborhood

    0408_nws_lpt-l-habitat2-0408More than 30 volunteers gathered at a large construction site Saturday morning in Long Beach to dig trenches, paint walls, install flooring and electrical wire to help build four homes for four low-income families. The King Center challenged Habitat for Humanity, a national nonprofit Christian organization, to host 50 “Beloved Community” acts of kindness around the nation to honor the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the Fair Housing Act that was enacted just four days after his death. The nonprofit helps build and renovate houses that are funded by multiple sponsors and donors. According to Erin Rank, CEO for the organization’s Los Angeles chapter, Habitat L.A, the group is able to finance families at a much lower rate for those that may not qualify for a traditional loan. “We’re giving them a permanent solution out of poverty…” Rank said. “We’re proud to honor Dr. King’s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his passing because his dream is still very much alive through our work at Habitat L.A.”

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