Sacramento Bee, October 25, 2023, California Leaders Have Not Owned The Scale Or Vastness Of The Housing Crisis
It is nothing short of a crisis when a family struggles to afford a place to live. For too many Californians, sky-high housing costs eat up more than half of their income, leaving little for other basic needs like food, utilities, transportation, childcare and healthcare. On any given night, more than 171,000 Californians experience homelessness.
California will have to spend $18 billion a year — about what we spend on prisons — over the next decade to build the 1.2 million homes necessary to meet urgent housing needs. The state has increased housing spending, but after years of minimal investment, current funding reflects a fraction of the need. Scaling up will take creativity and courage, including ongoing investments from our state general fund and the adoption of new revenue measures to support housing and homelessness programs. Current efforts to put statewide housing bonds and a proposal to lower the voter threshold for local housing bonds on the ballot in 2024 are a crucial step forward.
For decades, we have ignored the legacy of explicitly and implicitly racist policies that lock people of color out of ownership opportunities, create and reinforce neighborhoods of deep racially concentrated poverty and contribute to widespread housing anxiety for people of color. A recent study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found that the gap in homeownership rates between Black and White families is at a 120-yea high.