Tag Archives: Housing programs

How is “Affordable Housing” Working Out For You?

Legislators pass housing bills
Sacramento Bee: Legislators announce passage of bills

In 2016, there were 550,000 homeless people in the United States, mostly concentrated in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles.  California has the largest percentage of unsheltered (not in emergency shelters) homeless in the U.S. at 66%.  California has 22% of U.S. homeless population (in shelters and unsheltered), and 12% of the total U.S. population.

The currently accepted reason for California’s large homeless population is the state’s traditional resistance to population density — the Not In My Back Yard syndrome.  Therefore, the accepted remedy is to force all counties to build “enough” taxpayer subsidized housing.  However, one could observe other contributing factors:

* Destruction of small transient hotels, where low-income or no-income individuals and families called home.  Old timers will remember the last stand, the battle for survival of the International Hotel.  The low-income residents lost and the developers won.

* Explosive growth in drug use that interferes with gainful employment. Is anyone going after the real causes of the growth?

* Advent of central planning that mandated high population densities along transit corridors and designated large swaths of land as conservation or protected areas closed to development. Some call it the Watermelon Plan, green on the outside and red on the inside.

* Acceptance of words such as “displacement,” “housing rights,” “fair housing.”  Rejection of principles such as self reliance, freedom of movement, local control.  Maybe Orwell’s Animal Farm is no longer read in school.

* Utter rejection of the word “suburban sprawl.”  New rule:  everybody stay put.

One would think that as density rises in confined spaces, housing prices would rise.  Thus, all funding options should be viewed as ongoing and forever increasing – never “enough.”

On September 15, 2017, the open-ended nature of California’s “housing crisis” became clear.  Senate Bills SB 35, SB 2, and SB 3 passed the legislature, and are expected to be signed into law by Governor Brown.  SB 35 further moves decisions on housing from cities and counties to state.  SB 2 loads residents with more fees when they need to file a property-related document.  SB 3 funnels $4,000,000,000 in bond money into subsidized housing.  Supporters in the legislature say “It’s just a start.”

Massive Housing Programs and Massive Messes

public housing 2A recent interview on National Public Radio’s program Fresh Air discussed the federal government’s hand at segregating America’s suburbs during the 1930s through the 1950s. The Fair Housing Act of 1934 was established to facilitate financing and construction of housing, in response to what the federal government perceived as a “housing shortage.” Problem was the act aimed at providing housing for white families only. Vast tracks of suburban residential housing carried covenants that specified homes could be sold only to white families. We are all feeling the results of those misguided decisions to this day.

Government is populated by fallible people, just like any other group. When we allow or incentivize government to undertake massive endeavors, we might end up with massive unintended consequences.

Today the descriptive term has escalated to “housing crisis.” And again, especially in large metropolitan areas, there is massive government intervention in the form of central planning, subsidies, zoning, developer incentives, and a tsunami of new laws and financing proposals.

What will be the effects of the 2015 presidential executive order Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing or California’s Senate Bill 35, both mandating that every community build their “fair share” of housing at all levels of income – whether the community can afford it or not. But for these mandates to come true, they need financing, such as voter-approved housing bonds. Before we vote “yes,” let’s read the fine print.