Shelley Housing/Homelessness Q1
Housing affordability is not linked to spreading problem of encampments and skid row conditions, a human tragedy fostered by the judiciary. The people living in tents and under tarps, or unconscious on the pavement surrounded by trash, needles and human waste, should be patients, not tenants, and a few should probably be inmates. Lower housing costs won’t fix mental illness or substance abuse. Politicians and judges should be held accountable for leaving sick people on the streets until they’re either “ready to accept help” or become the coroner’s problem. It’s a cynical waste of public funds to build new apartments “for the homeless” at a typical cost of half-a-million dollars per unit. We should be building in-patient mental health care facilities and changing the law to make it easier to protect people who can’t make rational decisions.
What is actually linked to housing affordability is the problem of housing overcrowding—multiple families living in apartments, condos or homes that were designed for a single family, and an unknown but likely high number of people living in substandard housing, such as unpermitted and possibly unsafe garage conversions and backyard structures, not to mention vehicles.
Something else that is linked to housing affordability is the lack of economic opportunity for California workers. As the state recently ranked 50th in “business friendliness” by CNBC, California is failing to hold or attract companies that create high-paying jobs. The price of housing is only half the story of housing affordability. Wage and salary growth is a critical component of the problem.