You asked: What to do about California’s housing shortage?
By Dan Schnur
September 17, 2018
California Influencers this week answered the question: What do you think are the most important steps to take to improve California’s shortage of affordable housing? Would Proposition 10 help or hurt in those efforts? Here are their answers:
Donna Lucas, CEO and president, Lucas Public Affairs
California housing prices are the highest in the nation. Rental costs have exploded. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that 61 percent of California renters say rent is a major financial drain on them and their families. This is a human as well as an economic crisis, and it has huge implications. People are moving to states where they can afford to live. This drain on human capital is a terrible loss to California. To make housing more affordable to all Californians, there is no getting around the need to build more of it. At bottom, the housing shortage is what’s causing the crisis. To ease the short supply, we have to remove barriers to construction. This includes CEQA reform. We need to create incentives to build more smart, mixed-use, energy-efficient housing. Building homes for a growing population will have the effect we all want. Increasing supply will start meeting demand; it will make housing more affordable. Local and state leaders should convene a summit and develop a joint plan to accomplish this. Prop 10 won’t help. It does not address the real problem. We need a better, more comprehensive approach.
Amanda Renteria, board member, Emerge America; former chief of operations, California Department of Justice
Housing shortages and rising housing costs have been a result of misaligned incentives, uncoordinated economic development, a lackluster capital market for housing and complicated regulations for new development. To increase supply, four steps should be taken — declare homelessness a state of emergency in our hardest hit areas, create a statewide Housing specialist to partner with local/regional areas to establish housing supply plans, utilize state bonds and federal resources to ensure low income and middle income options for housing, and consider changing all misaligned incentives (including Prop 13) to ensure a sustainable housing stock for the next generation.
Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO, California Chamber of Commerce
CalChamber opposes Proposition 10 because it will exacerbate California’s housing crisis. As far as dealing with California’s shortage of affordable housing, the Legislature needs to consider every possible avenue to increase supply most importantly by developing strategies that will stimulate private construction of new homes. As such, the Legislature would be wise to provide leadership on CEQA reform, lowering property taxes and reviving some version of California’s redevelopment agencies.
Les Simmons, pastor, South Sacramento Christian Center
There is no silver bullet to end the housing crisis, but we make a significant impact by streamlining building regulations, provide incentives for building affordable housing and yes, voting for Prop 10. Cities need the ability to ensure their residents have continued affordable options. We need to encourage development to fit the needs of the communities.
Steve Westly, former California State Controller; founder, Westly Group
Modify CEQA. More carrots and sticks to pressure cities to zone more infill housing.
Christine Robertson, vice president of community engagement and advocacy, Visit San Luis Obispo
Our organization recently surveyed more than 5,000 residents of San Luis Obispo County about their priorities for the future of our region. Unsurprisingly, our residents told us the things they value most are our county’s beauty, open space and scenic views, and the thing they most want fixed is the lack of affordable housing. These competing values – don’t grow but add housing supply– are at the heart of many California communities struggling to balance environmental, social and economic impacts.
The shortage of housing available to low-to-middle income Californians is a symptom of a much more complicated system problem. Policies to incentivize more inclusionary housing, build more multi-family units and reform CEQA are all steps in the right direction and should be swiftly implemented. But they are not themselves sufficient. In a resource constrained and environmentally conscience state, we cannot simply build our way to supply-demand equilibrium. With housing prices outpacing wage growth by nearly 60 percent over the past 30 years, it is clear that we must also prioritize economic growth and mobility to help close the affordability gap. To achieve anything close to a sustainable solution, policymakers must resist the temptation to legislate in issue silos and work to bring the whole system into healthy balance.
Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator, 1993-2017
Affordable housing is clearly lacking in many parts of California. I have seen fact checked stories of working people who are forced to live in their cars and multiple families forced to share cramped quarters. At some point we will begin losing major employers because their workers cannot find suitable housing. So this issue is not only one of compassion but one of economics. The middle class, like our teachers and the retail sales force,are hurting when it comes to housing.
We all know there is not one silver bullet to solve this problem but there are steps to be taken.
I remember the days when I was a county supervisor and every development had to have a certain number of affordable units as part of the approval process.
We also need to support major tax credits to incentivize affordable units ok’d in undeveloped areas close to transportation. That is called”in-fill”. If shopping malls begin to fade, they would be prime sites for such housing.
Another idea is to encourage pension plans to invest in affordable housing for their employees. It’s a good investment!
In terms of rent control, I agree with Lieutenant Governor Newsom when he points out there are ways to tweak current law so that we don’t drive away new housing construction. As current law is tweaked it should allow for the views of local government to be respected.
When I was growing up there was an expression: “A man’s home is his castle.” Ignoring the gender bias in this, it is true that with a roof over their heads that is safe and secure, our families certainly will have the foundation they need to thrive.
Harmeet Dhillon, member, Republican National Committee; partner, Dhillon Law Group
California desperately needs to roll back regulations that prevent the economical building of new housing. These regulations range from excessive taxation to environmental and land use regulations to mandates such as solar power to rent control — everywhere you look, excessive regulation makes it more difficult for builders to build, owners to stay in their homes, and renters to fulfill the dream of home ownership. This syndrome is causing taxpaying younger people to flee California, retirees to spend their final years elsewhere, and people with a future to decide not to come to California to build it, leading to a tax and a brain drain from our state. The housing shortage exacerbates the divide between rich and poor in our state, as the middle class is forced to seek their futures in friendlier states. The California Legislature can fix this, but only if it frees itself from the grip of special interests who mandate these ruinous regulations.
Chad Peace, founder and president, IVC Media; founding board member, National Association of Non-Partisan Reformers
First, we should eliminate burdensome and redundant regulations that discourage responsible development, especially for smaller homes and projects. Second, we should adjust zoning criteria to increase densities near and along urban transit corridors. The best way to reduce housing prices is to increase supply. Rent control, however, disincentives development. This makes it harder for supply to keep up with demand. That why I believe, where rent control has been used, it tends to result in more social inequity and done little to discipline housing prices.
Ron Wong, president, Imprenta Communications Group
Prop 10 would be a disaster and would only make the housing crisis worse. There is no doubt that the homeless issue is the most pressing issue of the day. However, this is a complex multifaceted issue which involves not only affordable housing – we must also take into consideration mental health treatment, employment, addiction and other social services. Gentrification and the widening income disparity are also key factors. We need to encourage more development and building of homes and rental units – that simple economics. In the Asian Pacific Islander community home and property ownership has been path to the middle class. Families including my own grandparents scrimped and saved so they could buy a small 4-unit apartment where they lived with my dad and uncles for generations. That small apartment allowed my family to buy more units in the core of Los Angeles over the course of 50 years, and my cousins now manage these properties with a very small margin. So the image of greedy land owners is an overly simplistic which paints a false problem and false solution. Prop 10 would discourage new development and hurt home and property owners.
Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of AAPI Data & the Center for Social Innovation, University of California, Riverside
Many factors contribute to the housing crisis in California, ranging from NIMBYism and instances of over-regulation, to losing dwelling units to short-term rentals and the unintended consequences of Proposition 13. Making housing more affordable in California will require a grand bargain that requires innovation and flexibility among existing stakeholders. A single-minded solution is unlikely to solve the problem and, in fact, may create new problems that make the supply of affordable housing even worse in the future.
Manuel Pastor, director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, University of Southern California
Addressing the state’s problem of affordable housing will require action on many fronts. This includes significant public support and dollars for building and maintaining affordable units as well as the expansion of market-rate units (to sop up the demand of high-income groups who are currently putting pressures on housing traditionally utilized by lower-income households). Speeding up the permitting process, particularly in transit-rich areas, would help with this. Exploring land trusts and other “social housing” efforts could help to stabilize values and housing costs as well. Rent stabilization – which local jurisdictions would be able to expand if Proposition 10 passes – is an important tool in such an overall package. The “either/or” logic that pits rent restraints against other possible measures is misplaced: Research indicates that moderate rent stabilization measures – the sort that have been used in California – have virtually no impact on the production of new units. They also promote residential stability which contributes to the health and well-being of families and communities. There’s also a potential economic gain. New research on the skyrocketing costs in the Bay Area suggests that if tenants were not what the government considers “rent-burdened” – that is, spending more than thirty percent of household income on housing – they would have an additional $4.4 billion to pump into local markets rather than landlord coffers. Proposition 10 would allow our state’s cities and counties to use all the tools they need to tackle today’s housing challenges and encourage inclusive prosperity.
Tom Campbell, professor of Law, professor of Economics, Chapman University
Local units of government have used the housing permitting process as a revenue source, trying to replace the lost revenue from Prop. 13. As a result, new housing requires so many and so costly concessions by builders that it is often no longer affordable by persons of modest means when it comes to market. Low-income housing should receive a wholesale exemption from these local government fees, set-asides, and concessions.
By allowing cities to impose rent control on all new housing, Prop. 10 would inadvertently limit the supply of new housing. It is straightforward economics that capping the price of a good or service will result in less being produced. Let the market work, without costly government requirements, and government caps on prices, and there will be much more housing produced. For those unable to pay, cities and the state can adopt rental subsidies paid for by all of us, rather than imposing costs only on the very parties trying to build the housing.
Lara Bergthold, principal partner, RALLY Communications
It’s time to get radical about California’s shortage of affordable housing. We dream big in California so I’d like to see a citizens competition to dream up big solutions to this problem that offer radical game-changing ideas that can solve this problem in a short period of time. In the meantime, Pass Prop 10, be a YIMBY and say yes to affordable housing especially near transit centers, support public transportation projects that make it possible for people to afford housing AND survive their commute to work without greater urban density, overturn Prop 13.
Lanhee Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
To relieve the housing crisis, our policymakers should focus on addressing the regulatory and statutory predicates that restrict the supply of housing overall in our state. For far too long, progressive politicians have backed interventions in the housing marketplace—such as restrictive zoning rules or rent control initiatives like Proposition 10, which Californians will vote on this November—that do nothing but limit the supply of affordable housing and drive up prices for the poor and middle-income residents of our state. Rent control measures like Proposition 10 are particularly harmful. A famed Swedish economist who chaired the Nobel price committee for many years called rent control “the best way to destroy a city, other than bombing.” He’s absolutely right. Voters should reject Proposition 10 this Fall.
Carl Guardino, president and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
The most important step we can take to improve California’s shortage of affordable housing is . . . wait for it . . . build more housing. Yes, neglecting our need to build new homes for nearly two decades — both rental and for-sale — has led to skyrocketing housing costs. For the past two decades, California should have been producing an average of 200,000 new homes annually, but only produced an average of 80,000 each year. We need to build more homes at all pricing levels to meet the needs of a diverse state. For those who believe we should just lock the doors and stop allowing people to come to California, please realize that a significant part of our population gain is by birth, not migration. The folks we would be “locking out” are our own children, priced out of the state in which we have raised them.
Prop 10 — Economists overwhelmingly agree — whether they are from the left, center or right — that the visceral reaction for Rent Control will only exacerbate California’s housing shortage. Let’s not use a hammer to address a problem that requires fine surgical skills.
Kim Belshé, executive director, First 5 LA
At First 5 LA, we recognize that place – particularly home — matters for our children. When parents struggle to pay rent and meet mortgage payments, children also struggle. California’s housing crisis is upending the lives of countless families, often causing toxic stress. Since 2014, the number of homeless children in California has increased by 20 percent. Housing insecurity – experienced by one out of every four children — can have both short- and long-term impacts on a child’s development, thus limiting their potential from the start. Our overarching goal is for every child to enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Stable and secure housing strengthens a child’s likelihood of success. Prop 10 may be part of the solution and California voters will decide. This crisis is decades in the making, and it will take grit, determination and political will on the part of leaders from all sectors to craft a lasting solution.
Corey Matthews, vice president, LeadersUp
California has been met with the seemingly intractable issue of homelessness for a number of years now, and we have always considered the free will of apartment owners in setting rental rates as a possible part of the solution. It is not a new idea but before we begin to think deeply about the steps that we must take to meet this challenge head-on, we first have to decide as a state who we want to be: Are we the California that is the bastion of diversity, innovation and forward progress? Or are we the California of a dream deferred, where only certain Americans can enjoy our great weather and geographic options? Ultimately, the decision to support Prop 10 would mean that we are putting in place a stop gap to curb the shortage of affordable housing and to ensure that at least 13 million Californians can remain in stable living environments. Beyond my support of Prop 10 as a stop gap and not a “solution,” I believe that we have to find ways to incentivize new developments in non-coastal and rural regions and to invest more in public transportation to ensure that people can get to and from work. We have to leverage our tremendous amount of resources and land to develop the often overlooked areas of our expansive state in order to keep people in California as oppose to push them out. We have to decide who we want to be and for whom we want to be.
Bonnie Castillo, executive director, California Nurses Association
Whether housing or health care, the path to controlling the affordability crisis is similar, stop the price gouging. A major first step is passing Prop. 10 to give our local communities the power to protect our most vulnerable neighbors through controls on rent increases. Wealthy developers, landlords and corporate lobbyists are spending tens of millions to deceive the public, but all they really care about is protecting their sky-high profits.
Los Angeles County alone has seen rents skyrocket 34 percent the last seven years.
Nearly 30 percent of California tenants spent half their income on rent.
A shocking 268,000 young Californians have been identified as lacking “a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”
And the latest homeless phenomenon is thousands of our neighbors who now simply live in their cars.
Controlling rents is the most immediate way to keep tenants in their homes.
Nurses see the impact in patients enduring the physical and mental stress or other untreated ailments due to high rents, forced moves and homelessness, and our own members who face hours of commute time because they can’t afford to live near where they provide care.
Enough already. Prop. 10 is a good beginning.
Maria Salinas, president & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
To improve California’s shortage of affordable housing, the state and local municipalities need to ease the approval process and change current zoning regulations to allow for more density, particularly around transit-rich areas. Prop 10 goes too far. Expanding rent control and vacancy control provisions will lead to less investment in housing construction, as well as units being taken off the market for conversion to condos or short-term rentals. Prop 10 will make housing more expensive.
Pete Wilson, governor of California, 1991-1999
Proposition 1 and 2 are on the ballot to provide funding for additional affordable and homeless housing. Ever since the state eliminated redevelopment agencies, an alternative source of funds has been needed. Cities have since turned to inclusionary requirements, a measure which just shifts the costs of affordable housing to the few market rate units being built each year. The result has been to gut any meaningful chance to build housing for lower to middle income residents in California. The proposed bonds are a partial solution by providing new funds but it is wholly inadequate because state and local requirements for CEQA, impact fees, litigation and prevailing wage mean that each year fewer and fewer units can be built from the available funds.
The state needs to get real about this crisis and needs to put these additional costs and burdens on housing to one side, and start building without these additional costs until we bring supply in line with demand. As for Proposition 10, it will have a disastrous impact. Every objective review by the LAO and credible economists agree that it will cut further into the low number of units being built each year and accelerate the number of units withdrawn from the rental market.
Janet Napolitano, president, University of California
The lack of affordable housing is a serious threat to California’s well-being and its economic future. Supply simply has not kept up with demand. We need a statewide strategy that will accelerate the construction of new housing with an eye toward concentrating housing near transportation hubs so that people are not stuck in their cars for hours commuting to and from work. A statewide strategy could mean the sacrifice of some forms of local control, but whatever we are doing now is not working. We need a reset and a refocus.
Eric Bauman, chairman, California Democratic Party
We need to develop and build many more new low cost and affordable units. The current rate of gentrification-conversions is actually reducing our affordable housing stock, and our current development programs and incentives are not keeping pace. The judicious use and expansion of rent Control can and will hold rents down, but unfortunately it will also reduce the number of new rental units built as investors fear they will not be able to gain from their dollars. Prop 10 looks to hold rent increases down to keep units affordable, but it creates the potential of single-family home owners to be under rent control for the first time, pushing them to rent their houses via short term rental services.
Jim Wunderman, president and CEO, Bay Area Council
It may not sound sexy, but zoning reform. California simply doesn’t have enough land zoned for housing in the right places at the right densities. We need to reinvent our urban landscape in a way that will allow more people to live closer to their jobs or transit alternatives. Fear mongers paint a dystopian picture of urban up-zoning and the “Manhattanization” of our communities. This is complete nonsense. Allowing more density near transit hubs and along major transportation corridors won’t radically alter the look of a community but it will allow housing for a lot more people. It will help preserve precious green space outside and on the edges of our urban core and also help California meet its aggressive climate goals by reducing long, polluting commutes. Along with zoning reform, we need to restructure the system of financial and other incentives that we use to encourage cities to embrace more housing. California must invest in affordable housing and housing assistance programs, but we can’t spend our way out of this epic crisis. One estimate put that cost at $250 billion, money that we simply do not have. Reforming our zoning laws and reworking our incentive system will empower the market place to go all in on producing the housing we so desperately need.
As for rent control, the Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck may have said it best: “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing.” Rent control discourages production of new housing, particularly of the sort that is often the most affordable, and reduces investment in the maintenance and preservation of housing.
Ashley Swearengin, president and CEO, Central Valley Community Foundation
If we want more affordable housing in California, then we have to increase housing supply. There is no way around that simple reality. Proposition 10 is a blunt force instrument that would have the opposite effect – it would actually decrease housing supply. So, how do we increase production of housing units? The regulatory environment has to be predictable and navigable. In Fresno, for instance, we adopted a comprehensive land use plan for the city; rewrote a 60-year-old development code so that it was streamlined to implement local land use policy; created “by right” zone districts throughout the city for every kind of development, including single family and multi-family housing; and then re-zoned the entire city to be as turn-key as possible. It took seven years to complete that full range of policy and regulatory reform in Fresno. It was mind-numbingly detailed, tough, nuts and bolts work, but that is the kind of heavy-lifting that has to be done at the local level. There are some interventions the state can take on – like CEQA streamlining for development close to transit – but these are inherently local decisions. The state can create incentives and stiff penalties to ensure cities and regions are providing for an ample supply of housing. And, the state can provide ongoing financing tools for affordable housing, such as re-establishing redevelopment but focused exclusively on affordable housing.
Chet Hewitt, president and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation
Let’s start by admitting that the housing challenge in California is complex, and is not going to be resolved by any one solution.
This complexity is heightened by the unfortunate reality that we have done so little to address the challenge that policy interventions, such as Proposition 10, now seem reasonable.
Other substantive changes are needed and should begin with the state of California working with counties and cities to incentivize the building of affordable housing by providing express lane project approvals, implementing a state review and approval process for affordable housing projects that are denied at the local level — like Massachusetts but better — and the provision of dedicated public financing.
We also need to deal with discrimination experienced by housing voucher holders and the displacement assault experienced by communities that are poor, of color and too often both.
Opponents of Prop 10 argue that it will distort the market and lead to fewer investments in rental housing. That may be true. However, I’d argue that the market is already distorted, in favor of the well to do, and requires enforceable public policy interventions to correct it.
Antonia Hernandez, president and CEO, California Community Foundation
We have two crisis, we have an affordability and a homeless crisis. The affordability crisis makes the homeless crisis worse. In Southern California. we need to begin to build up coupled with improving public transportation, create more of an urban environment. We must also tackle affordability both controlling rents and making the purchase of a home more accessible.
Daniel Zingale, senior vice president, The California Endowment
The rent is too damn high! And the housing crisis isn’t new to the more than half of Californians who are renters or struggling to remain homeowners on modest incomes. It’s no wonder so many residents don’t have faith in the political system. Earning their trust requires hearing their voice. Renters expect to be protected from price gouging and harassment. Local communities are demanding the power to protect renters, to preserve existing public and private affordable housing and to produce more of both. Those living the crisis are calling the question: Will housing continue to be viewed as merely a commodity? Or will it finally be recognized as a basic human right?
Astrid Ochoa, election administration and voting advocate
Proposition 10 is promising because it will help slow down the accelerated increase in rents we are seeing in areas that are gentrified. I understand that landlords need to offset cost of maintaining their properties but I am also seeing long term residents face increases of $200 per month, sometimes every year. These hikes are unrealistic and it is forcing families to spend beyond their means or to move out. The consequence is that families are uprooting. One tenant advocate I spoke to said they knew a family who had moved four times in the last five years because their landlords raised their rent each year. That creates instability for families and for neighborhoods. The first step to improve affordable housing is to create some stability for our communities. Proposition 10 may provide some relief but it will not solve our housing crisis. I would love to see increased homeownership education and creative and responsible financing options. Owning a home is the first step to creating long term stability and wealth in our communities.
Adama Iwu, vice president for state government relations & community outreach, Visa; co-founder, We Said Enough
There are too many limits on where and when and how and how much building we can do in California. NIMBYISM masquerading as zoning restrictions, long project design reviews, and the California Environmental Quality Act are just a few ways that projects get slowed down. Coupled with the legislature shutting down redevelopment agencies in 2012 we continue to fall farther and farther behind on housing. We need more ideas like Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 827 that would have required that all areas within a half-mile of a transit stop or corridor allow building heights of four to eight stories. 827 died in its first hearing but sparked a national conversation. Proposition 10 is just the latest bad policy idea. It will result in a housing freeze, already developers are waiting to see if it will pass before investing in new projects. Smaller landlords will likely leave the rental business completely. Worst of all, Proposition 10 would make statewide solutions impossible because any changes would need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, or yet another ballot measure to make changes to it. State and local leaders need to work harder to find real solutions to address our housing issues instead of yet again forcing voters to make difficult policy decisions for them.
Linda Ackerman, president, Marian Bergeson Excellence in Public Service Series
California laws and regulations are driving up the cost of housing units and yet each year more are added. Governor Brown just signed a bill into law that will require that the State’s electricity sources myst be carbon free by 2045. While this may be a laudable goal, it will drive up the cost of energy. There is also a new law requiring solars panels to be installed on all new housing driving the cost up further. Why not set homebuilding goals for the state for the next 30 years. Perhaps incentivize private investment of homebuilding, adjust our regulations, fees and lessen the time needed for acquiring permits. Rent control will not create one more housing unit. In fact, rent control in my view will only exacerbate further lack of housing. California landlords already face ongoing increased expenses associated with owning and renting property. When faced with the prospect of rent control a business decision is often made by the property owner to look at other options for his property. This, of course results in rental units being take out of the market place. It will take time for our housing market to catch up to population growth, but creating one more regulation that infringes on one person’s property right is not a good solution for anyone.
Madeleine Brand, radio host, KCRW Los Angeles
We need to build a lot more housing. And we need to require developers to either set aside money for affordable housing or create it as a condition for building. I’m not sure rent control is the answer because it doesn’t necessirly lead to lower rents, and in some places (SF), it’s quite the opposite.
Rob Stutzman, founder and president, Stutzman Public Affairs
This conversation is getting old. We need more supply. Gov. Brown and the current Legislature have failed to move the needle and we are now in an epic crisis. The next governor should treat it as such and appoint a housing czar and declare an emergency. Fees must be slashed, environmental review must be expedited and local jurisdictions must at times be overridden. Newsom or Cox could make heroic strides on this front.
Mike Madrid, principal, Grassroots Lab
Reinstitute redevelopment. Eliminating redevelopment removed $1 billion a year for low income housing and set in motion the current housing shortage. California is now one of two states without redevelopment financing and that change has proven shortsighted and disastrous. Prop 10 will help but is just a drop in the bucket.
Dorothy Rothrock, president, California Manufacturers & Technology Association
The last thing we should do to increase the supply of affordable housing is pass Proposition 10 which would discourage new investments in housing. No matter what policy improvements we make to encourage new development, we will not fill the housing gap if rent control under Proposition 10 is possible.
Michele Siqueiros, president, Campaign for College Opportunity
The reality is that California needs both limits on rent increases that allow low income and middle income families the ability to stay housed AND we need major investments in building (denser) housing to address challenge by both public and private investors. A strong dose of anti NIMBYism would also go a long way.
Catherine Lew, principal and co-founder, The Lew Edwards Group
First, we must recognize that this housing emergency not only affects California’s diversity and economy, but is also a HEALTH crisis. Workers forced to commute long distances to get to their jobs are clogging freeways, affecting our air quality and environment. When families spend their entire budget on housing, there isn’t enough for food, affecting nutritional needs. Kids and seniors who are displaced can’t focus on school or unique elder care needs. Our First Responders and teachers can’t afford to live in the communities they serve. We must: protect residents at risk of displacement and eviction; maintain local rental housing at all affordability levels; produce additional housing our workforce, working families and future generations can afford; and engage a broad coalition on these issues — including health specialists, advocates and providers. Innovative community land trusts (where a nonprofit purchases/owns land in perpetuity, giving the owner/s of homes on those lands long-term leases) are great strategies to maintain a supply of community-affordable housing for generations of families. And YES — Prop. 10 will help. Why wouldn’t we allow local governments to develop their own solutions to address these housing affordability issues? #vote
Kim Yamasaki, executive director, Center for Asians United for Self Empowerment
Build more affordable and market rate housing, include protections for low income communities, and revitalize the path to homeownership for young families. Voters need to understand that Prop 10 does not promise the building of more housing and is not a catch all solution. The whole Prop 10 debate has turned into infighting centered on tenants v. developers, when the solution needs to be a reconciliation of the needs from both sides.
Aziza Hasan, executive director, NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership For Change
It is essential that we build more affordable housing units, and since this is a real priority, we must assign skilled facilitators to convene community conversation sessions with different stakeholders — those who oppose building housing projects as well as those support building housing projects — in order to find and address their concerns with dedicated resources. Working through the tension that exists in communities who are concerned about issues like public safety will allow community and government to deal with the issues head on and problem-solve so that building can commence. Housing costs are at an all time high and while Proposition 10 has the potential to introduce more rent control, it does not resolve the housing shortage.
Maria Mejia, Los Angeles director, Gen Next
The most effective way to increase California’s supply of affordable housing is to incentivize developers to build, build, build, by reducing the exorbitant costs and fees associated with construction. Yes, rent control is an important tool that can vastly improve accessibility to the state’s existing housing supply but its benefits are short term, and serve to directly discourage developers from building, particularly in high cost cities and parts of the state that will continue to see significant population growth over the next few decades and where new housing units are drastically needed. Proposition 10 is well intentioned but not a viable long term solution to the housing crisis. We need to guide the market (and the players), not constrain it.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
There must be a major effort to construct new housing and to ensure it is affordable. New efforts and approaches are essential.
Tavae Samuelu, executive director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
First, I want to say that my organization has not taken a stance on Prop 10, so the opinions I a expressing are mine alone and do not represent EPIC as a whole. That being said, I believe Proposition 10 offers a more immediate solution making housing affordable and allows for more creativity in thinking about how we balance supply and demand. I’m also reticent to support arguments and solutions that center on developers as opposed to the most vulnerable communities.
Jim Boren, executive director, Fresno State Institute for Media and Public Trust; former executive editor, The Fresno Bee
California must meet the demand side of the affordable housing crisis by increasing supply. Affordable housing projects in urban areas must be supported by local government, and with taxpayer incentives for building these projects. Laws that block the creation of affordable housing must be relaxed, as long as those changes don’t compromise safety. Local governments should be able to enact rent control by a majority vote of the elected representatives of that entity.
Andrea Ambriz, chief of staff, Service Employees International Union Local 2015
It’s clear that the soaring costs of rent and home purchase prices make the current state of housing inaccessible to many. Long-time residents are being displaced, humble neighborhoods are being flipped to become McMansion hot beds, and workers (disproportionately low-income earners from communities of color) are being pushed far from their workplaces, barely making ends meet to afford rent, let alone the American dream of purchasing a home. However, these are only symptoms of the problem, which is not the lack of affordable housing. Housing is subjectively “affordable,” which means that alleviating our housing crisis is not going to be addressed solely through boosting building development and supply in our state or simply by allowing local flexibility in rent controls (as in Proposition 10); both though are valuable efforts to provide intermediate relief for California’s housing crisis. The problem comes down to a fundamental issue of economics where workers’ wages are insufficient to meet the demands of California’s cost of living, thereby escalating the potential for damaging inflation. Therefore, our community, political, and business leaders should seek a solution in fostering a strong, well-paid workforce provided with necessary wealth building opportunities to both ensure our economic prosperity and essential community development.