California Housing News

Housing Costs — More Than Tuition — Are Crushing California’s Low-Income College Students
KQED
Sadia Kahn ended up at UC Berkeley because of a look her dad gave her. When she was in middle school she told him she wanted to go to Berkeley because she’d noticed adults perked up when they heard the word, but in this case it backfired. “He had the saddest look in his eye,” Kahn recalls. “I think he felt guilty. He knew that was something we couldn’t afford.” Attending a university in California can be a financial burden beyond the means of many college hopefuls.

Frustration spikes in Bay Area house-hunting
Mercury News
Frustration with the Bay Area’s housing market has surged in 2018, hitting a four-year high, according to new data that reveals just how widespread the struggle to afford lodging really is. Fifty-three percent of voters said it’s “much harder” to find a place to live compared to a year ago — up from 36 percent of voters in 2017, according to a poll released Wednesday by business-backed public policy advocacy group the Bay Area Council.

Will the next big campaign in Sacramento be rent control?
Sacramento Bee
One election ends, the next begins. Sacramento’s divisive – and increasingly expensive – debate over rent control is heating up, with a potential November ballot measure looming. The coalition of labor unions and Democratic party interests behind a proposed November ballot measure will begin organizing renters affected by the city’s skyrocketing costs to testify at City Council meetings throughout the month of June, starting Thursday.

Council approves ‘workforce housing’ project
Palo Alto Online
Few projects reflect Palo Alto’s hopes and fears like the 57-apartment development that the City Council approved early Tuesday morning for the traffic-congested corner of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real. Supporters used words like “workforce housing” and “car-light” to describe the Windy Hill Property Ventures project at 2755 El Camino Real, which secured a 7-2 vote, with Council members Karen Holman and Lydia Kou dissenting. With the building’s central location and apartments averaging 526 square feet each, proponents see it as the perfect project to address the “missing middle” class — employees and residents who make too much money to qualify for traditional below-market-rate housing but not enough to afford the city’s sky-high market rates.

Las Vegas, New York Top List of Destinations for Workers Fleeing Large California Cities
KQED
Las Vegas, New York and Phoenix are the most common destinations for people leaving California for new jobs, according to a new report from the real estate website Trulia. Trulia analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from the first quarter of 2017 of people moving somewhere for a new job, focusing on people who moved away from San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles.

The Nest: Empty nesters can help with housing crisis
Eureka Times Standard
California has a housing problem — as in there isn’t enough of it. A recent report about the issue in The Sacramento Bee found that the state was building only half as many new housing units as population growth required. The article’s author, Angela Hart, further noted that, “(the) state now needs 180,000 new housing units per year, according to state housing officials, and it is building less than 80,000 annually on average.”

How much affordable housing does LA need?
Curbed – LA
Los Angeles County has an extreme shortfall of affordable housing, according to a new report from the California Housing Partnership and the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, and 568,255 new units are needed to satisfy the demand of lower-income renters. Based on Census data, the report indicates that more than 800,000 renter households would qualify for affordable housing, were it available. But fewer than 300,000 units are available across the entire county at rents that would be affordable to these residents.

Is The California Dream Dying? Another Family Calls it Quits on the Golden State
KQED
It’s 65 degrees and sunny on a Saturday afternoon in the trendy Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. Many families are enjoying walks in Griffith Park, or eating lunch at outdoor cafés. But not Anna and Evan Colby. They’re packing up their apartment in a mad dash to move to Lansing, Michigan. They’re among many Californians fleeing soaring housing prices, smog and increasingly-frequent wildfires and mudslides.

Is California’s High Cost Of Housing Scaring Off Job Seekers?
KPCC
Plenty of workers still move West each year for a new job in California. But the state’s high cost of housing may be deterring many other job seekers from moving into the state. Business leaders up and down the state say California’s expensive housing makes it challenging to recruit new workers — and to keep existing employees here. “You’re competing, now, with a low unemployment rate in California, and people have options,” said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council. In April, the state’s unemployment rate hit a record low of 4.2 percent.

The housing market is a heartbreak in California, but is it getting any better?
KPCC
California is losing population to domestic migration, people relocating to this state have significantly higher incomes than those leaving it, according to reports. Meanwhile, some residents are frustrated by the lack of affordable homes on the market. The median home price in an average neighborhood is above $1 million. According to a report by ReportsOnHousing, which tracks regional home-buying patterns, sellers are still in the driver’s seat.

The Deep, Uniquely American Roots of Our Affordable-Housing Crisis
The Nation
When Rosalina Hernández and her husband moved into their studio apartment on Los Angeles Street in South Central LA 15 years ago, the place was just for the two of them and the baby they were expecting. Back then, it wasn’t too hard to find what they needed: an apartment they could afford with just a bit more space. But as their family grew, they remained stuck in place. Eventually, six people—Rosalina, her husband, and their four children—were sharing the one main room, a small kitchen, and a bathroom. Today, the tidy living room is also the dining room and bedroom; the bathroom serves as a makeshift closet.

Many renters who move to the Inland Empire don’t plan to stay
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Location is a bigger factor than a job offer when it comes to a renter’s decision to move to the Inland Empire area, and slightly fewer than a quarter of newcomers plan to live here for the long term, according to a new survey. ApartmentList released survey results Wednesday, May 16 showing nearly 55 percent of people who move to the Inland Empire are “location-first movers,” meaning they decide to live here before finding a new job. The survey showed other sunny metros such as Las Vegas, Phoenix or San Antonio attracted similarly-motivated people. A greater share of people moving to those cities, however, told ApartmentList they plan to live there for the long term.

California’s High Rent Leaves Many One Crisis Away From Financial Ruin
KPBS
Charlene Holkenbrink-Monk tracks her family’s monthly budget on an Excel spreadsheet. Panic usually sets in by the end of the month. “Because often times we are negative by about $10,” Holkenbrink-Monk said. “If we had some unexpected expense. We wouldn’t know how to figure it out. We wouldn’t know how to pay for it. We literally have zero dollars in our savings account right now.” She is hardly a rarity.

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

Don’t believe the doomsday scenarios on our housing needs
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
A spate of recent research reports all seem to point to a severe housing shortage in California. Most notable among these is a McKinsey Global Institute report, which projects that by 2025, at current construction rates, California’s housing gap will be 2.5 million units. That projected gap is based on what California will need to bring its housing units per capita in line with that of New York or New Jersey. But why compare California with those states or, for that matter, any other state?

California housing is such a surreal nightmare, even Kafka would find it Kafkaesque
Sacramento Bee
To: Joe Mathews From: Franz Kafka I keep hearing Californians calling your state’s housing crisis Kafkaesque. You are far too kind. I never imagined a nightmare this cruel, absurd, and surreal. I don’t know how I got to California. But I appeared here some weeks ago, in the form of an insect, like my protagonist in “The Metamorphosis.” And I’m glad I did. If I’d known weather like this in my lifetime, I might not have died of tuberculosis in Prague in 1924, at age 40.

A country as wealthy as the United States should make affordable housing a right
The Hill
One issue which never seems to rise to any degree of national visibility is residential housing. Yes, during local campaigns, you hear much talk about the “homeless crisis” and the need for “affordable housing.” But these topics are almost never mentioned or brought up in a presidential campaign or even a U.S. Senate contest. These supposed “local” matters, for some inexplicable reason, are deemed not “serious” enough for a national discussion.

TENANT RIGHTS

Could Free Eviction Attorneys Help Stem San Francisco’s Housing Crisis?
KQED
You know how on TV, when someone gets arrested, the police tell them: “You have the right to an attorney, and if you can’t afford one, one will be provided for you.” Well, that right to an attorney applies only if the person is facing criminal changes. If you’re in eviction court — which is civil — there’s no free lawyer. The San Francisco Bar Association’s Gloria Chun says that’s not fair, because civil court cases can be just as life-altering as jail or prison time.

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

Santa Ana rent control petition drive underway
Orange County Register
Wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with the words “TU Santa Ana,” community activists are walking the streets, visiting churches and fanning out across Santa Ana shopping centers seeking signatures to put a rent control initiative on the ballot next November. This month, Santa Ana became the eighth California city where tenants’ rights workers are circulating petitions to force a vote on proposed laws limiting rent increases and enacting renter protections against evictions.

How Passing Rent Control in Santa Ana Will Benefit Undocumented Residents
Orange County Weekly
For many years, Santa Ana city council members and developers have coveted the gentrification of downtown. But it isn’t just Mexican storefronts disappearing because of hipster bars and high-priced eateries. Draconian landlords are an integral part of the displacement of low-income Latino tenants just trying to put a roof over their head. With any eviction protections or rent control, undocumented residents are particularly vulnerable to being giving the boot or threatened with having la migra called on them for speaking out about slum conditions.

Modesto’s rental housing inspection proposal: Will it help tenants or hurt landlords?
Modesto Bee
Modesto is facing resistance from property owners and managers as it considers whether it should inspect apartments and other rental housing to ensure they meet basic health and safety standards, including having working plumbing and being free of vermin. But an official with Faith in the Valley — a community organizer that works with disadvantaged communities — said a rental inspection program ensures all renters live in safe and decent housing.

Why San Francisco Outdoes New York City on Tenant’s Rights
Beyond Chron
The May 21 front-page NY Times story on New York City’s housing crisis highlights how the city has been outpaced by San Francisco in protecting tenants since the latter adopted rent control in 1979. While protections for NYC tenants have steadily weakened and even disappeared since the 1990’s, San Francisco’s rent control and eviction protection laws have expanded and strengthened. Why did New York City and San Francisco go in two different directions? I see three main reasons, all of which are a function of political power and will.

How to Protect a Renter Nation
Truth Out
Sherri Eddings and her daughter live in South Los Angeles. They’re tenants in a home owned by Invitation Homes, a company that owns and manages more than 12,000 single-family homes in California. Eddings has lived in her home since 2013, originally paying $1,800 a month. She says that every two years, her landlord has tried to raise her rent by $500, but she was able to negotiate a $200 increase over two years.

Gimme Shelter podcast: Evictions and tenants’ rights
CALmatters
Matt and Liam discuss a handful of tenants’ rights bills with uncertain futures currently making their way through the Legislature. First, an Avocado of the Fortnight asks what historians will make of a Los Angeles-area gas station decades from now (2:30). The Number of the Fortnight introduces us to an arcane part of the legislative process called the “suspense file”, which could spell the doom of several key housing bills (5:30). Then the current state of tenants’ rights in California, and some bills meant to strengthen those protections (12:30).

Why We Need a New Conversation on Rent Control in California, Today.
California Economic Summit
Leaders seeking to address California’s housing crisis are facing an important challenge: how to take meaningful and significant policy action to “stop the bleeding” of rising costs, eviction and displacement without generating new challenges that will only prolong the state’s deep affordability challenges. Today’s debate over rent control, and particularly, the movement to repeal Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (which places statewide limits on how jurisdictions implement rent control), has pushed this challenge to the fore.

Southern California accounts for 61% of the state’s eviction filings, report finds
Orange County Register
Southern California eviction cases account for more than 60 percent of all eviction court filings in the state, a new study released Wednesday, May 30 shows. Landlords filed 306,537 eviction cases from 2014 through 2016 in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, according to a report by the San Francisco-based tenants rights group Tenants Together.

‘I’m Going To Be Eating Very Little Food’: Tenants Go On Rent Strike To Fight Rent Increases
CBS – Los Angeles
Tenants in the Westlake District of Los Angeles have resorted to a tactic becoming more and more common as Southern California’s housing crunch squeezes those who can’t afford rising rents: a rent strike. The renters at three buildings on South Burlington Avenue have teamed up with the Los Angeles Tenants Union in the hopes their landlord will not only be reasonable in their increases, but also address what they have called slum-like conditions.

Op-Ed: Grand theft, housing, and owners who can’t vote with their feet
Orange County Register
A core selling point of federalism is that it enables those ill-treated by one government body to “vote with their feet” toward less abusive jurisdictions. That is a good reason for reserving some political policy determinations to state rather than national government, or to local rather than state government. However, devolving political power to lower level governments does not serve citizens’ rights when it comes to rent control, because rent control paralyzes owners’ ability to escape imposed burdens by voting with their feet.

HOUSING POLICY

California Turns to Homeowners to Help Solve a Crisis
Bloomberg
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.

Baby boomers would get a huge property tax break under this November initiative
Sacramento Bee
Older California residents who buy pricier homes could save thousands of dollars in property taxes under an initiative that has qualified for the statewide November ballot. The initiative – backed by the California Association of Realtors – would change a key provision of Proposition 13, the state’s 40-year-old property tax law that ties a home’s assessed value to its sales price and caps the property tax rate at 1 percent of that value.

SF mayor convenes summit to address high affordable-housing building costs
San Francisco Chronicle
A mix of escalating construction costs and changes to the federal tax code is hampering San Francisco’s ability to finance and build affordable housing. And the situation may only get worse even as the housing crisis forces thousands of families to flee to less-expensive cities. That was the message from city housing officials Monday at a special “cost summit” convened by Mayor Mark Farrell. The group — about 50 nonprofit developers, architects, labor leaders and contractors — was asked to spend the next two months coming up with solutions for tackling the city’s spiraling housing construction costs.

Renters vs. homeowners: Political divide as wide as California’s affordability gaps
Orange County Register
Renters are more worried than homeowners about California’s housing woes. You do not have to be a pollster to figure this out. But the gap revealed in a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows key differences. For example, the survey of 1,702 California adults shows 13 percent of renters say real estate costs were their top California concern. Just 7 percent of homeowners felt the same way. One thing homeowners typically possess that renters don’t — the relative certainty of what the roof over your head will cost.

Meet the Rising New Housing Movement That Wants to Create Homes for All
The Nation
Crossing the Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge on a brisk spring morning in Rochester, New York, the first thing one sees is a small tent city scattered about the banks of the Genesee River. It’s a sprawl of black tarps, folding chairs, and a charcoal grill, all set up on private land. The property’s owner, a cable company called Spectrum, has attempted for some time to tear it down, urging local officials to clear the encampment. In an effort to forestall the destruction of their fragile shelters, the homeless people who live there have hung a banner at the edge of a nearby highway that reads, simply, “Forgive us our trespasses.”

Granny flats and renters’ tax credits: Which California housing bills lived and died Friday
Mercury News
An array of bills aimed at easing California’s housing crisis, from banning fees on “granny flats” to pushing housing development on BART property, cleared a key hurdle on Friday, while others died quietly in fiscal committees. One such fatality was a proposal to help teachers and other middle-income tenants live closer to their jobs. “I had very much hoped that this bill was going to move forward and it didn’t,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, about the proposal, Assembly Bill 3152, to spur more rental housing for the so-called “missing-middle” through property tax breaks for developers.

Segregation’s legacy persists across Southern California real estate, report shows
Orange County Register
The high cost of housing in California and a legacy of long-banned discriminatory practices have a consequence many casual observers might overlook: segregation. Los Angeles and Orange counties are in a four-way tie for 10th-most segregated area among the nation’s largest metros, according to a new report from ApartmentList.com. The problem is less prevalent in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, despite a slight uptick in observed segregation in that region.

Efforts to build housing around transit threaten to price out those most dependent on bus and rail
San Diego Union Tribune
On his way to a doctor’s appointment, Steve Schneider sits at a bus stop in North Park on Tuesday afternoon surrounded by trendy coffee shops, tattoo parlors and mustachioed hipsters sipping craft beer. The 68-year-old has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, but in just the last four, he’s seen his rent jumped from $850 to $1,275. As an epileptic on a fixed income, he cannot drive and has recently started to fear he may have to move and lose access to transit.

Editorial: BART housing bill exposes lots of hypocrisy
San Francisco Chronicle
The Berkeley City Council went on record Tuesday solemnly urging the governor to declare homelessness a statewide emergency while noting its own “comprehensive” efforts to grapple with the housing shortage. At the same time, the council formally objected to legislation that might allow new apartments to encroach on the ocean of asphalt surrounding the North Berkeley BART Station.

Editorial: California’s housing shortage is not sustainable
Orange County Register
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.

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