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The Solution to Housing: What California Can Do to Fix its Housing Crisis

Guest Blogger,
blue, green and yellow houses illustration

First off I want to start this post by talking about why housing issues matter so much to me. As a person who has lived in California all their life, I have seen firsthand the consequences of the housing crisis in this state. Parks I used to walk in are now tent cities for the homeless. It disappointed me that in the richest country on the Earth, in the richest state in this country we have failed at providing our citizens something as basic as affordable housing. All of this is why I seek in this post to strike at the roots of this crisis and state what we can do to fix it.

The biggest issue in the housing market today are the regulations designed to constrain supply. Take for example San Francisco, where it is illegal to build apartments in 73 percent of the city. Unsurprisingly the average cost of rental in San Francisco is nearly double the national average. This is backed up by a German study which found that when the housing supply increased one percent there was a .4 to .7 drop in rent prices. Unfortunately, progressive advocates in the city have failed to realize the link between the supply and cost of housing. Instead of repealing restrictive laws and zoning codes, they have implemented policies such as rent control, despite the near-universal condemnation of the policy from economists across the political spectrum.

Thankfully in the last few years, there has been an upheaval of growth in the YIMBY movement (Yes in My Back Yard) which has resulted in many California cities repealing negative housing policies such as single-family zoning. Still despite this action California remains behind in terms of housing and we must continue to pressure our mayors, city council boards, and state legislators to do away with housing policies that have stymied the growth of our state.

If you're interested in supporting this housing movement you should look into SB10, introduced by state senator Scott Wiener. This bill allows cities to upzone areas at transport or job centers. Encouraging others to educate themselves about the many housing bills going through the state legislature goes a long way in aiding the pro-housing movement. Call your state senators and assembly members to encourage them to support some of the pro-housing policies mentioned in the article. Applying to your local city planning boards is also a great way to make a direct impact on the housing crisis in the state.

Baxter Katz is a sophomore at La Canada Flintridge High School and volunteers for Teen'Scape in Central Library.
—Amanda Charles, Young Adult Librarian, Teen'Scape, Central Library