Sizzling California economy spawns a severe housing crisis
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A fullfledged housing crisis has gripped California, marked by a severe lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families. The median cost of a home here is now a staggering $500,000, twice the national cost. Homelessness is surging across the state.
In Los Angeles, booming with construction and signs of prosperity, some people have given up on finding a place and have moved into vans with makeshift kitchens, hidden away in quiet neighborhoods. In Silicon Valley – an international symbol of wealth and technology – lines of parked recreational vehicles are a daily testimony to the challenges of finding an affordable place to call home.
Heather Lile, a nurse who makes $180,000 a year, commutes two hours from her home in Manteca to the San Francisco hospital where she works, 80 miles away. “I make really good money and it’s frustrating to me that I can’t afford to live close to my job,” Lile said. is up and unemployment is down. But the churning economy has run up against 30 years of resistance to the kind of development experts say is urgently needed. California has always been a desirable place to live and over the decades has gone through periodic spasms of high housing costs, but officials say the combination of a booming economy and the lack of construction of homes and apartments have combined to make this the worst housing crisis here in memory.
Housing prices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego have jumped as much as 75 percent over the past five years.
The bill sponsored by Wiener, one of 130 housing measures that have been introduced this year, would restrict one of the biggest development tools that communities wield: the ability to use zoning, environmental and procedural laws to thwart projects they deem out of character with their neighborhood.