55 of California’s Counties Lacked Enough Affordable Homes Even Before the Pandemic

NEWLY PUBLISHED: 2020 Affordable Housing Needs Reports 
From the California Housing Partnership
Recent events have amplified the longstanding injustices caused by social inequities that continue to plague our society. Since 2014, the California Housing Partnership has published reports documenting the failure of California’s housing markets to meet the needs of low-income families. Even before COVID-19, 1.3 million low-income California households lacked access to affordable homes. New pandemic-caused unemployment, displacement and massive state deficits are upending previous efforts to relieve the housing crisis.  
Each year, the Partnership has created Housing Needs Reports for as many counties as staff time and resources have allowed for research. Thanks to added funding and staff last year, the Partnership was able to publish an all-time high of 26 county reports in 2019. 
Sacramento_Housing_Needs_Report_2020This year, we are pleased to announce the release of new reports for all 58 California counties. Each report contains graphic visualizations of the following types of affordable housing data analysis: 
  • Number of households without access to an affordable home 
  • Housing market condition changes
  • Federal and state funding level changes 
  • Comparisons of local wages to local rent
  • Production and preservation trends
At the end of each report, the Partnership lists a number of statewide policies that would provide relief to low-income families and seniors struggling with unaffordable and unstable housing. In addition to more immediate COVID-19-related initiatives such as Keep California Housed and the federal HEROES Act, the Partnership encourages the following legislative efforts:
  1. Make permanent the $500 million annual increase to the California Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program to jump-start affordable housing production and provide an additional $100 million annually to rehabilitate existing affordable rental properties.
  2. Create a new Affordable Housing Preservation Tax Credit to preserve existing affordable housing at risk of conversion and to fight displacement pressures.
  3. Allow affordable housing to be built by right on land currently zoned for commercial or public uses and on church-owned lands. 
  4. Streamline Department of Housing and Community Development rental housing funding programs through a single application and award process to reduce development costs.
  5. Reduce the threshold for voter approval of local funding of affordable housing and infrastructure from 67% to 55% as was done for educational facilities in 2000. 
  6. Exempt supportive housing and affordable housing funded by MHP, HOME or CDBG from CEQA reviews.
“With interest rates at record lows and property values headed downwards, now is the time for the state to think big and bold. The state should pass a Coronavirus Homelessness and Housing Economic Recovery Bond as soon as possible to provide local communities with the resources to compete against predatory purchases of distressed hotels, motels and multifamily buildings,” says Matt Schwartz, president and CEO.
Not only could these actions preserve and produce thousands of affordable homes, but they would also expedite bringing the state’s economy back to life by creating employment for tens of thousands of Californians and billions in new revenue. As evidenced by these reports, the need is urgent, and the time to act is now. 
2020 Housing Needs Reports for California Counties
An Online Housing Needs Dashboard from the Partnership!