As Alameda and many other California cities contemplate how they plan to build the 1.6 million low income homes they need by 2025, affordable housing advocates are using data from a few different resources. These data are vitally important as despite the crisis many cities still oppose new housing in favor of the needs of existing residents, many of whom have stable housing that is already paid for, or permanently rent controlled.
As the recent Harvard study recently found even renters are getting into the NIMBY act, wanting to preserve the views and benefits they’ve enjoyed for decades, while younger generations, immigrants and migrants struggle to pay for affordable housing. In some cases, even those who benefit from subsidized affordable housing are opposed to new development, unable to understand that these folks just want the same thing that they already have: stable affordable housing.
Fortunately in the fight to approve and build new affordable housing Renewed Hope and other housing advocates have hundreds of pages of verified data that shows how we got to the housing crisis, how much we need to build to fix it and where those homes should go.
Accessible Reports on the California Housing Shortage:
The 2017 California State Housing Assessment from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This is a broad overview of the housing shortage, showing how many homes California has built in the last hundred years, and revealing that our housing production has slipped by building only half of what we require on an annual basis for the last ten years. It further acknowledges that the folks most impacted by this crisis are low income folks who do not have the flexibility in their budgets for rising rents and become much more likely to become homeless. This report also goes into some of the reasons that we haven’t been building at the rate required for a healthy housing market.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development 2015-2016 Annual Report
California state law requires that the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) report annually on housing construction, grant and loan fund distribution, and the demographics of the people HCD programs has assisted. In addition to the narrative summary of the report, there are tables towards the end that make it easy to see which counties are doing their part in the shortage and which ones are making it worse.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office Report “Do Communities Adequately Plan for Housing?”
It’s not just the HCD that’s concerned with this housing shortage. As California’s Assemblymembers and Senators consider solutions the CA LAO has come out with a more detailed look at what prevents individual California communities from building needed housing and considers solutions to target those roadblocks. The report’s conclusion is rather startling as it asserts that nothing will change until housing advocates encourage a shift in views about housing development across the state. This means that education is a necessary endeavor as we work to build housing and that these reports can provide the foundation to do that education.
Closing California’s Housing Gap by the McKinsey Global Institute
This might be one of the most important documents of the bunch. While the HCD talks about building 1.8 million homes by 2025, the McKinsey Global Institute puts that number at 3.5 million. Considering that they also assert that as many as 50% of Californians in certain regions are paying more than 30% of their incomes in housing and utilities it’s important to determine what the true number of housing units we will need. It’s important to read this report as one contemplates some of the assertions of the HCD report. There are statistical nuggets here that can change the hearts and minds of Californians hesitant to build the dense, urban cities that we need.
Alameda has been improving its approach to affordable housing in the past three years, however more work needs to be done. We have to determine the best path to ensure that as many people as possible get access to housing in areas of job growth and transit infrastructure. Alameda is primed in its placement between Oakland and San Francisco to become a vibrant part of the growing Bay Area metropolis, especially as regional transit planners consider adding a second BART tube and a BART station in our city.
The documents shared today can help us prove that when folks with stable housing oppose new development in reliable job corridors, that they are directly contributing to increases in homelessness and suffering among vulnerable populations. A simple mind shift towards urbanism could be the starting point to build an equitable California with a healthy housing market for all.