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Newsroom

  • Santa Monica Lookout: Rent Control Cities Like Santa Monica Are Building More Apartments, Advocates Say

    California cities with rent control, including Santa Monica, have seen more construction of apartment buildings than cities without such controls, housing advocates say. San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, the largest Bay Area cities with rent control, have seen a disproportionate number of new multifamily rental units built since 2000, notes Stephen Barton, the former Housing Director for the City of Berkeley. The three cities, which account for 27 percent of the housing in the Bay Area, built 43 percent of the area’s new multifamily rental units in buildings with at least five units, Barton said. The same trend is reflected in the City of Los Angeles, which accounts for 42 percent of the housing in the County but has built 62 percent of new multifamily rentals, he said. “Most studies have found that rent control has no effect on new construction,” said Barton, who holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California.

     

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  • The Orange County Register: The new face of affordable housing looks a lot like Oakcrest Terrace in Yorba Linda

    Oakcrest Terrace in Yorba Linda opened in 2016. It provides a safe environment for low-income families in addition to after-school care and homework club. (Courtesy of CORE)

    The problem is right in front of us. Whether on the side of the freeway, behind a grocery store, or in a park, homelessness is an undeniable challenge in Southern California. You can hardly turn to the news without seeing another story highlighting the need to get those who are homeless off of the street and to expand housing stock in the region. The irony, however, is the disconnect between those two needs. No one wants people sleeping on sidewalks in their neighborhood, but it seems that many also dislike the idea of increasing affordable housing. However, we will never be able to house the homeless, or even low-wage workers and their families, without providing additional housing for people of all income levels. So, what is it about affordable housing that is so scary? We know the homeless and low-income individuals are already in our community.  In every community. They may be sharing housing, renting a room, or they might be working in your local grocery store or restaurant and commuting long distances. But they are already in every community. Could it be that affordable housing conjures up images of substandard urban apartment projects surrounded by crime, drugs, and blight?

     

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  • CityLab: Where the House-Price-to-Income Ratio Is Most Out of Whack

    A home for sale in the Sacramento area

    The rule of thumb long used by real estate agents and homebuyers is that you can afford a house if its price is equivalent to roughly 2.6 years of your household income. That ratio is based on historical nationwide averages under healthy economic conditions. But today, in many places around the country—particularly in coastal cities in California and along the New York–Boston–Washington corridor—housing has become staggeringly more expensive than that. To get a sense of just how much more expensive, my colleague Charlotta Mellander and I looked at the number of years of median income it would take to buy a home in U.S. metropolitan areas. This metric helps us better understand the relative cost of housing compared to incomes. We used data on median housing values from Zillow and on median income (for households and individuals) from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

     

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  • Sacramento Bee: California is paying for this housing crisis, and not just in mortgages and rents

    The “California Dream” of homeownership is not yet dead, but it’s on life support. As housing prices continue to hit record highs, economic divisions are deepening across the state. The details are intricate, but the overall picture is clear: Our strong but dysfunctional economy is driving away families the state needs for sustainable economic growth. It’s no secret that California’s home supply severely lags demand. Since the trough of the recession in 2009 through last year, an average of 73,000 new housing permits were issued each year. This is down from an average of 135,000 permits issued annually between 1991 and 2007. If these trends continue, we could see a housing backlog of 3.4 million units by 2025. And even if we maintain the uptick in new construction that the state experienced last year, we’ll still face a backlog of 2.8 million units. For California families, the housing shortage means choosing between the second-highest rent burden in the nation and long commutes, or moving out of state. For California companies, it means difficulty recruiting and retaining top talent. For California’s economy, this may mean a shortage of local workers in key areas. And for the state’s future, it might mean a brain drain, as young people figure their prospects are brighter elsewhere. Our inability to build new housing is constraining our economic growth, jeopardizing our climate change goals, and preventing healthy diversity in our population.

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  • The Orange County Register: California’s housing shortage is not sustainable

    A house is under construction Friday, May 4, 2018, in Roseville, Calif. Federal data released Friday shows California has surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world fifth largest economy, with real estate and financial services leading other economic sectors in driving the state’s economic growth. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

    New reports from the nonprofit California Housing Partnership provide insight into just how significant the shortage of affordable housing in Southern California really is. According to the reports, Southern California needs upward of a million new affordable housing units just to meet current demand. In Los Angeles County, it is estimated another 568,000 more affordable rental homes are needed to keep up with demand. According to the report, the county’s poverty rate rises from 17.2 percent to 24.9 percent when adjusting for housing costs and social benefits. In Orange County, it is estimated another 92,738 more affordable rental homes are needed to keep up with demand. According to the report, Orange County’s poverty rate nearly doubled from 11.9 percent using the official poverty measure to 21.3 percent when factoring in housing costs and social benefits.

     

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  • The Sacramento Bee: California is paying for this housing crisis, and not just in mortgages and rents

    Though new homes like these in North Natomas are being built throughout California, they are scarcely making a dent in the state’s massive housing shortage.

    The “California Dream” of homeownership is not yet dead, but it’s on life support. As housing prices continue to hit record highs, economic divisions are deepening across the state. The details are intricate, but the overall picture is clear: Our strong but dysfunctional economy is driving away families the state needs for sustainable economic growth. New research from the San Francisco-based Next 10 and the Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics offers a snapshot of a state economy that is increasingly becoming defined by its housing shortage. It’s no secret that California’s home supply severely lags demand. Since the trough of the recession in 2009 through last year, an average of 73,000 new housing permits were issued each year. This is down from an average of 135,000 permits issued annually between 1991 and 2007.

     

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  • Noozhawk: Coastal Housing Coalition Holds 5th Annual Santa Barbara Housing Conference

    Coastal Housing Coalition conferenceHousing options and development were featured topics last week at a day-long event in Santa Barbara hosted by the Coastal Housing Coalition. The fifth annual Santa Barbara Housing Conference, titled Collaborate for Housing, offered networking, a guest speaker, followed by morning and afternoon educational workshops and panel discussions. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, opened with a keynote address that examined housing development in California cities. “Unless we get it together in housing, what we are going to see in many communities — particularly coastal communities like Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco — is cities with three types of people living there: people who are wealthy, people who are lucky enough to bought their home 20-40 years ago or inherit their home, and people who are homeless or packed into an overcrowded housing situations,”said Wiener. “That is the future unless we turn it around.” He spoke of policy that aims to lead more affordable housing in California. During his first year in State Senate, Wiener said, he passed 11 bills that were signed into law, including a bill to approve projects without delay in cities behind on their housing goals. Senate Bill 35, written by Wiener and took effect Jan. 1, 2018, was part of a broad housing package that aims to make it easier to build homes and generate in new funding for affordable housing.

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  • Bloomberg: California Turns to Homeowners to Help Solve a Crisis

    Policies to address California’s housing crisis have to take into account two stubborn facts: Homeowners are much less likely than renters to want to see more housing. And three-quarters of the state’s voters are homeowners.  In a Public Policy Institute of California survey, 55 percent of homeowners said they support new construction in their communities, versus 73 percent of renters. On the more specific question of whether they favor changing environmental regulations and local permitting processes to make housing more affordable, half of homeowners said yes, compared with 70 percent of renters. For likely voters, those numbers dropped to 46 percent and 49 percent respectively. So the trick to adding new housing, especially in expensive cities, is finding policies that appeal to the interests of homeowners. One such policy is showing promise. In 2016, the California Legislature enacted a law requiring cities to allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units, or ADUs — otherwise known as granny flats, guest houses or garage apartments. The new structures simply have to be in residential areas and meet such basic requirements as setbacks and height limits.

     

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  • STL News: California REALTORS® announce “Pathway to Homeownership” Affordable Housing Project

    American IRA Responds to The Best Suburbs for Self-Directed Real Estate IRAs

    In a demonstration of its commitment in advocating for affordable workforce housing in California, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) today announced it is exploring the redevelopment of the site of its Los Angeles headquarters to build affordable workforce rental and for sale housing. C.A.R. is proposing the development of up to 181 residential units, which would include rental and for sale units at affordable workforce housing rates. Affordable units would be available to individuals and families earning 60 percent to 150 percent of the area’s median income. Additionally, 20 percent of the units would be allocated to veterans earning 50 percent or less of the area’s median income. “California’s housing affordability is at crisis levels, and C.A.R. wants to actively create new affordable rental and ownership housing opportunities for those who need it the most, such as our veterans, nurses, firefighters, teachers, police, and other public servants,” said C.A.R. President Steve White. “We’ve decided to take this bold step by serving as a model for other similar projects throughout the state and providing a pathway to the American dream.”

     

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  • Mercury News: After a real-estate deal that triggered $1,000 rent hikes, Oakland families face eviction

    Rafael Luna, his sons Luis, 17, David, 18, and his wife Evelia, from left, walk their dogs Candy and Linda near their apartment on 34th Avenue in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, May 16, 2018. The long-term tenants were hit with a $1,150 rent increase and a threat of eviction after their building was sold to a Silicon Valley investor last fall. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

    With its crumbling popcorn ceilings, cracked tile and worn carpeting, the apartment Rafael Luna and Evelia Cruz have called home for nearly a decade has outlived its youthful prime by any measure but one: California’s rent control law. Though built in 1989, the family’s apartment in Oakland’s gentrifying Fruitvale neighborhood will forever be deemed “new construction” under the state law, making it immune from local rent control. So there was nothing the city could do about the $1,000-plus hikes that hit the Luna family and their neighbors as the complex of four apartments changed hands last year. For these families with modest means, the rent sought by a 32-year-old Silicon Valley investor all but guaranteed they would be forced out — not just from their apartments, but a city where the median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $2,750. “We love it here. We love Oakland,” Luna said. “It’s very hard because we don’t know what we’re going to do.”

     

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