San Diego Union Tribune: Three ways to address California's housing crisis immediately

Friday, August 18, 2017

OP-ED BY: TONI ATKINS and TODD GLORIA

Last month, we cut ribbons on Talmadge Gateway and Cypress Apartments — two affordable-housing projects that will provide a combined 122 new homes in San Diego for struggling seniors and people who have been chronically homeless. At Talmadge Gateway, we met Marvina and Michael — two local seniors who expressed profound relief to finally have roofs over their heads and the chance to lead a stable life after years of instability.

Projects like these are critical as housing has become increasingly unaffordable. Virtually every Californian can attest to the increased cost of living we have seen in recent years.

Since 2000, the median rent in the San Diego region has spiked by 36 percent. However, the median household income for renters has risen just 4 percent. Our lowest-income earners spend nearly 70 percent of their income on housing and, to meet the current demand from the middle and working class, we would need to build 142,000 rental homes.

The problem on its surface is supply-and-demand economics: We’re simply not building enough housing.

What is being built is disproportionately for high-income residents. In fact, we’re meeting 128 percent of the demand for luxury housing but only 18 percent of the demand for middle-income housing and 22 percent for low-income. This is the real problem.

But there is good news.

There has never been a stronger sense of urgency to take action.