Pastor Housing/Homelessness Q2
What’s missing is a recognition that this is a problem deeply embedded in our contemporary economy. The growing level of income inequality means that those of means can easily price others out, particularly in areas that are jobs- and amenities-rich. The growing reliance on a knowledge economy also means a clustering of talent and a hike in highly specific housing market pressures. This is all on steroids in the Bay Area – where if a family with two full-time minimum wage earners (even at our state’s higher minimums) lost their current place, they could afford to live in only five percent of the nine-county region’s neighborhoods. But we are facing many of the same pressures in Southern California, particularly as seek to grow our tech-related industries.
So everyone needs to step up. The federal government could help the region by dramatically stepping up Section 8, the program designed to help poor renters bridge the affordability gap – but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for assistance from an administration whose main housing innovation seems to be caging would-be refugees. The governor backed off tying transportation money to the creation of affordable housing – but it would be a good idea to increase the incentives for localities to plan, zone, and build such housing. The state assembly and senate should pass a bill allowing for new local rent stabilization ordinances and tenant protections, as well as more funds for affordable construction.
Localities must overcome the NIMBYism that is preventing affordable housing from being located in more opportunity-rich neighborhoods. The private sector (beyond developers) should play a role; while Google’s recent $1 billion pledge to build affordable housing will have a modest impact in the Bay Area crisis, it points to leadership opportunities for the broader business community.