Bishop Housing/Homelessness Q2
Solving California’s housing crisis isn’t as simple as making it easier to build homes by eliminating red tape, reducing fees, or strategies that singularly aim to provide more homes in job-rich areas.
200,000 residential units are already entitled in Western Riverside, yet only 25,000 have been built in the last five years. More homes are not being built in part because the kind of economic growth conducive for home-buying in this area has remained relatively stagnant. Jobs growth is predominantly in the retail, hospitality, transportation and warehousing sectors, which are generally characterized by lower-wages that make it difficult to support higher numbers of home purchases. While home prices here have climbed back to pre-recession levels, family incomes have actually decreased since 2012.
Bringing higher-paying jobs to inland areas should be a central pillar of the State’s housing crisis solution. The State should implement incentives that increase economic opportunities within this region. The Governor has proposed providing $500 million in incentives for localities to create new housing and $250 million to provide technical assistance to ramp up local jurisdictions’ zoning and permitting processes. For areas that are jobs-poor like Western Riverside, these funds should instead be utilized for economic development focused on bringing higher-wage jobs here. This will have the effect of boosting income levels in the region and unleashing some of the backlog of the region’s already entitled homes.
Additionally, the State should increase funding for technology incubators and accelerators, which promote local entrepreneurship and business growth. The State could also implement changes in the tax code to encourage home ownership. For example, the State could expand deductions and credits for first time home buyers, and expand existing programs that provide grants to first time home buyers to provide coverage for a wider range of persons at various income levels.