On October 18, over 300 people gathered at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium for UCSC’s “No Place Like Home” forum. The event revealed the results of months of research by UCSC students into how the local housing crisis is impacting Santa Cruz residents. As part of the study, hundreds of members of our union took part in surveys and interviews with students.
The study revealed the dire consequences of the housing crisis. It found that Santa Cruz is one of the top-five least affordable cities for renters in the US. This unaffordability is due to the disparity between average income and housing costs.
Many people are overextending their budgets on the cost of housing (48% of homeowners and 60% of renters spent more than 30 percent of their income for housing). According to the survey, 45% of those who participated had been forced to move due to more expensive rent, financial issues, problems with the rental, or eviction. Out of those 45%, half had to move further away and increase their commuting time.
A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows Proposition 10 leading, with support for the measure continuing to grow as California voters learn about Prop 10. The poll also finds that lack of rent stabilization policies — not lack of supply — was the top reason among respondents for why housing is unaffordable in the state.
In Shift, States Step in on Affordable Housing
As an affordable housing crisis continues to escalate in big cities and small towns alike, states are scrambling to find ways to combat it. This year, there’s been a flurry of state legislation to tackle the problem — with radically different approaches that reflect the highly partisan national divide. Although local zoning rules typically play out in city council and suburban board meetings, states from South Carolina to Hawaii are getting involved. Sometimes this means removing zoning barriers to building affordable housing. And sometimes state lawmakers take the opposite approach, seeking to prevent cities from requiring that builders include affordable housing units in their developments. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/10/15/in-shift-states-step-in-on-affordable-housing
Home ownership has become a luxury in California – but could the tides be shifting?
With mortgage rates spiking and housing costs remaining stubbornly high, it’s no wonder that only a quarter of California residents can afford to buy homes. This week brought the latest numbers on mortgage rates in the U.S. and it’s not looking promising for buyers. Rates have risen to nearly 5%, and though the Wall Street Journal indicates that mortgage rates of 5-7% are historically normal, nearly a generation of buyers have become used to paying below 4% and may hesitate to commit to a purchase with more financial strings attached. In addition to the creeping mortgages, housing prices continue to climb, and California remains one of the least affordable states for home ownership. We speak with analysts and experts across the housing industry to dissect the numbers and see how the trends may influence SoCal residents.
SF to cover Housing Authority deficit so poor families won’t lose homes
San Francisco Chronicle
An audit of the San Francisco Housing Authority has uncovered a deficit that could reach as high as $30 million, a shortfall city officials say they are scrambling to cover by December to protect thousands of low-income families who would face displacement if the funding gap is not filled. The deficit was discovered last week during an audit conducted by the accounting firm BDO and a “quality assurance team” from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Kate Hartley, director of the Mayor’s Office Of Housing and Community Development. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-has-to-cover-Housing-Authority-deficit-
Oakland to pay rent for low-income residents at risk of homelessness
San Francisco Chronicle
Oakland residents at risk of homelessness could qualify for emergency rent checks and legal representation under a new program announced Monday by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and three Bay Area nonprofits. At a City Hall news conference, Schaaf and executives from the East Bay Community Law Center, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bay Area Community Services presented a $9 million pilot plan called Keep Oakland Housed, which is designed to provide support services for low-income city residents. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-to-pay-rent-for-low-income-residents-at-13309308.php
Unwilling to Wait for Voters, Los Angeles County Jumps Gun on Temporary Rent Control
Fox & Hounds
Los Angeles County couldn’t wait for voters to decide this fall if local governments can enact rent-control laws. The Board of Supervisors recently enacted a “temporary” restriction on rent increases. If they think that will relieve the housing crisis, they are mistaken. The Los Angeles County ordinance sets rents at their current
and caps increases to 3 percent a year in unincorporated parts of the county. Supervisors will vote again in December, and if approved then, the ordinance will take effect 30 days later. Rents would be frozen at Sept. 11 levels for six months, and landlords would be required to show “just cause for tenant evictions.” http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2018/10/unwilling-wait-voters-los-angeles-county-jumps-gun-temporary-rent-control/
Read the full article here.
“Crises, the saying goes, create opportunities. By forcing deep problems into the light of day, crises can focus our attention on their origins and impacts, and inspire us to work collectively to build transformative solutions. The affordable-housing crisis in Santa Cruz and across California presents us with just this kind of opportunity.
Our UCSC-based No Place Like Home project arose three years ago to heed this call.
NPLH was initiated by our community partners: the area’s largest non-profit service providers — Community Bridges, the Community Action Board, and California Rural Legal Assistance — as well as SEIU Local 521, whose members work for and serve the city and county. Collectively we designed a research project to understand how the crisis affects the community, particularly the most vulnerable and undercounted: low- and moderate-income renters. Together with 250 UCSC students, we reached over 2,000 residents and stakeholders.”
This following excerpt is from an op-ed published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel from landlords and homeowners who support Measure M. You can read the full article here.
As landlords and homeowners, we understand why some of our landlord friends are anxious about the proposed rent control ordinance on the ballot. Some of us are nervous about Measure M’s potential restraints on our power to raise rents and evict tenants. We all grew up here in the U.S. — property is sacred.
But we also agree that rents have gotten too high. We want community stability. We understand that forcing people out of their homes causes a community-level trauma, disrupts our schools, and drastically weakens the very fabric of our neighborhoods.
And many of our landlord friends support the regulation of housing, even rent control in principle, just “not this ordinance.” We know there was some early misinformation that suggested Measure M would stop nuisance evictions (which it doesn’t) and allow endless subleasing (which it doesn’t) but those have long been debunked, so why the worry?
Rent control policies are key to stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis, which has driven millions of people into poverty and displaced hundreds of thousands of others, a new analysis released Wednesday by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley shows.
The research brief, titled “Opening the Door for Rent Control: Toward a Comprehensive Approach to Protecting California’s Renters,” finds that rent control, when applied with other housing policies, can prevent housing costs from spiraling out of control and forcing families to leave their neighborhoods.
In an attempt to further understand the housing needs of our union members, SEIU 521 partnered with 52 students from UCSC’s Labor Studies Department to study how the affordable housing crisis impacts those of us who live or work in Santa Cruz County.
The purpose of the UCSC research project – No Place Like Home: Santa Cruz Displacement and Commuting – is to document the housing concerns of those who work in and serve Santa Cruz County.
Mark your calendars – on October 18, UCSC students will present their findings, and provide a space for us to discuss solutions to this crisis.
A new report from the California Budget & Policy Center paints a grim picture about the impact housing has on rising rates of poverty in our state.
California continues to have one of the highest poverty rates among the 50 states, statistically tied for first with Florida and Louisiana, according to new Census data released this morning based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). This poverty measure provides a more accurate indicator of economic need in California than the official federal poverty measure because it accounts for the high cost of living in many parts of the state, among other factors.
This report, from the non-profit California Housing Partnership Corporation, found that Santa Cruz County is in need of nearly 12,000 new affordable rental homes to meet demand.
Additionally, when factoring in the high housing costs of Santa Cruz County, the poverty rate in our community rises to 24.8%.