Four Pillars for Housing Affordability: Moving Beyond Sacramento’s Third Rail

What type of incentives or regulation would bring more affordable housing within reach of all our residents?    

Here are four pillars on which to build and retain affordable housing:

  1. We need public options for housing. Just like healthcare, prescription drugs, and building infrastructure, the housing situation has gotten so big, broken and expensive to fix that we need a government led solution.  We have got to give our government the ability to respond to these crises under our state Constitution.
  2. We need to help fund down payments and closing costs for first time homebuyers (including anyone who has not owned and occupied a home for 3 years even if they previously owned a home and sold it or lost it to foreclosure like so many in the 2008 financial crisis). Many residents have the ability to support mortgage payments (and currently are doing so in the form of very high rental payments) but lack the savings for a down payment and move-in costs.  Programs such as a government provided “silent second” mortgage with no payments due until a sale or financing help fund these residents into home ownership and housing stability.
  3. We need to help fund move-in costs, security deposits and first months rent for renters, and to have stronger tenant protections. Almost ½ of the residents across the state are renters, and in some urban areas (like Los Angeles and Long Beach), renters are a substantial majority of the residents and voters. Over half our renters are cost burdened, and in Los Angeles more than 1/3rd of tenants are paying over ½ their monthly income in rent (or mortgage). That is not sustainable.  Tenants are most vulnerable to displacement and housing insecurity and so helping tenants stay in place is key to addressing our housing for residents.
  4. We need to level the playing field, minimize the manipulation of our housing markets by speculators, and ensure that the standard unfair competition and business practices principles apply to housing. We also need to align our tax deductions, credits and incentives with the policy goals of building and maintaining housing for residents not speculation. 

Four Pillars for Housing Affordability: Moving Beyond Sacramento’s Third Rail
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