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The Problem With California’s Affordable Housing Goals

The current housing goals set forth by the California state government are more likely aggravating the Golden State's affordable housing crisis rather than solving them, according to a report by Next10, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focusing on the state's long-term issues related to the economy, environment, and quality of life.

The report, which examines the shortcomings of the state's housing goals revealed that it would not meet its low-income housing production targets in certain jurisdiction for more than 1,000 years at the current pace of development.

The report indicated that it was becoming increasingly difficult to develop an adequate stock of affordable housing units forcing some residents to move further away from job centers or out of the state in search of affordable housing. Looking at data available on Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), a set of housing development targets set by region, the report said that one out of every six jurisdictions in the state was not participating in the RHNA reporting process that forms the basis of the state's understanding of localized housing development progress.

While a number of recent bills in California have sought to increases transparency, accountability, and enforcement of RHNA, the process through which the goals themselves are development may need to be reexamined, the report indicated.

Breaking up the current housing permits for high-, moderate- and low-income households it found that only 25.9 percent of the allocated units statewide were completed across all income levels. The percentage completed is progressively worse the lower the income level for housing units, the report stated.

While 45.6 percent above moderate-income units have been permitted, only 19 percent of moderate income, 9.8 percent of low income and 7.3 percent of very low-income units have been permitted. In fact, the report said that 52 percent of the jurisdictions reporting to HCD had permitted zero units for very low-income households. Seventy-two percent and 67 percent of the reporting jurisdictions had completed no more than 10 percent of their RHNA goals for very low-income and low-income groups respectively.

Based on these findings, the report recommended three key areas that could bring affordable housing in California closer to its goals. They included:

  • Redefining housing needs by reexamining housing demand calculations to better account for historic unmet housing needs and distribute allocations equitably across a region
  • Zoning according to the existing demand to make it legal to build and prioritize development of residential housing for all income-types instead of prioritizing single family homes only
  • Aligning housing development with projected job growth

Click here to read the full report and recommendations.

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and copy-editor, and a reporter for DS News. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.

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