For years, the fallout from the high cost of housing has been a staple of news coverage of California. The fact that the climbing costs have led the Golden State to have the highest percentage of impoverished residents in the nation. The awful “super commutes” that service workers have to undertake to get from distant suburbs where they can afford rent to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The negative effects that such commuting has on the environment and on the state’s goals of much cleaner air. The increasing difficulty companies are having in attracting and retaining workers who know that home ownership may never be a realistic option for them in California. The stories about rent being so high that many college students — including 20 percent of those at California State University campuses — sometimes don’t have money for food.
Coverage of the crisis in recent years has broadened its focus from how it hammers low-income families to how it hammers even those with incomes that would be seen as middle and upper-middle class in much of America. The New York Times wrote in June that households in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties with four members and income of $117,400 or less were considered low income — the highest threshold in the nation — and were thus eligible for federal housing assistance. The threshold in most of Southern California, including San Diego, is around $77,000.
Buying a home used to be part of the American dream. It lets you build equity over the years, gives you a significant financial asset, and provides a pride of ownership or investment in the surrounding community. The problem is that in some cities, workers must earn hundreds of thousands of dollars to afford an average-sized home.
Top 10 Cities Where You Need to Earn the Most to Afford a Median-priced House
1. San Jose, CA: $274,623
2. San Francisco, CA: $213,727
3. San Diego, CA: $130,986
4. Los Angeles, CA: $114,908
5. Boston, MA: $109,411
6. Seattle, WA: $109,275
7. New York City, NY: $103,235
8. Washington, DC: $96,144
9. Denver, CO: $93,263
10. Portland, OR: $85,369
By Abby Hamblin, The San Diego Union-Tribune
California was given a first-place title this week that it surely doesn’t want.
It has the highest rate of poverty of any state in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
As a whole, the U.S. saw its national poverty rate decrease slightly 0.4 percentage points. But the Golden State has its own unique poverty story to tell.
Here’s what you should know.
By Emily Badger, The New York Times
The housing secretary wants to encourage mixed-income, multifamily development as a way of making housing more affordable. But it’s a notion homeowners of all political leanings tend to oppose.
Ben Carson, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, wants to spur construction of mixed-income, multifamily housing all over the country. If we had more of it, he argues, homes would be affordable to more families, and they’d have more options of where to live.
He is probably right. But the kind of housing he describes is impractical, illegal or too costly to build in much of the United States today, in suburbs and big cities alike. Blocking it are: zoning rules that allow only single-family homes; laws that dictate the size of yards; elaborate permits that drive up development costs; and rules that grant neighbors a veto over what is built.
By Philip Molnar, The San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego was one of the least-affordable U.S. metro areas for buying a home in the second quarter, said a recently-released study from mortgage website HSH.
Potential buyers needed to make $130,986 a year to afford the median-priced single-family house.
Only two other metro areas were less affordable — San Jose and San Francisco — said the study, which crunched numbers for 50 regions across the United States.
HSH determined rankings by looking at quarterly home price data, local property taxes, homeowner insurance costs and income needed to qualify for a loan. It also assumed that prospective homebuyers made a 20 percent down payment.
By J. Harry Jones, The San Diego Union-Tribune
The decision whether to allow construction of the controversial Lilac Hills Ranch housing development in Valley Center will be made later this year by the county’s Board of Supervisors following a hearing last week.
The county’s Planning Commission unanimously decided Thursday that plans to build 1,746 dwelling units on 609 acres just east of Interstate 15 near W. Lilac Road had not changed enough in the past several years to require another time-consuming hearing before the commission which had approved a similar proposal in 2015.
The project will now go to the supervisors for a final decision in the fall on a date yet to be determined. Supervisor Bill Horn, who lives on a ranch a couple miles from the Lilac Hills site, will likely recuse himself from the vote based on a ruling made three years ago by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which said the proximity of his property presented a conflict of interest.
By Aaron Burgin, The Coast News Group
REGION — A proposed 1,700-home master planned community near Valley Center is headed to the County Board of Supervisors, after the County Planning Commission voted June 8 not to rehear the project.
But opponents of the project said they likely will sue to have it reheard by the planning group.
The commission voted 5-0, with two commissioners absent, to advance the Lilac Hills Ranch Proposal to the supervisors, despite staff’s recommendation that the body hold additional hearings to address what they called “substantial changes” to the project. The Valley Center Community Planning Group and a group of residents who have opposed the project since its inception urged the commission to side with its staff.
By Jeff Powers, IVN
By 5-0, the San Diego County Planning Commission voted to support the New Lilac Hills Ranch community. The project will now go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
For several years the development has been a target for environmentalists who claim the project is too large for the community and will be detrimental to the environment.
The Planning Commission didn’t agree with that assessment.
By Andrew Khouri, Lost Angeles Times
California lost lower-income residents to other states over a recent 11-year period, while gaining wealthier households from elsewhere in the U.S. The disparity reflects the state's sky-high rents and home prices, according to several reports released Thursday.
The studies, produced by Beacon Economics for public policy nonprofit Next 10, mirror findings from the groups two years ago, as well as a flurry of other research that's documented California's persistent housing crisis.
The organizations say the numbers underscore the depth of the affordability problem. They called for policy changes that would increase housing supply so "low-wage residents are able to remain in California."
"In order to maintain a robust economy, California will need to ensure that residents across all income and employment levels are able to afford a basic cost of living in the state," the authors wrote.
By Matt Levin / CALmatters, KPBS
Why are California housing costs so high? At its most basic level, it’s a story of supply and demand — lots of people want to live here, and there aren’t enough homes to go around.
But there are lots of uniquely California factors — from the shape of our coastline to Prop 13 — that have attached a painfully expensive price tag to the California dream. The median price of a home is now well over half a million dollars — that number is about $240,000 nationally. More than 20% of Californians pay more than half their income for housing.
Here are five reasons the state’s housing market got so out of whack.