Opinion: California needs more ‘social housing’ to solve crisis

Opinion By Steven Hill : eastbayextress – excerpt

San Jose and Oakland are classic examples of a supply/demand market failure that SB 50 will not solve.

The affordable housing crisis continues to humble California policymakers. Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill, SB 50, is the latest attempt, but it fails to recognize that a major reason for this crisis is not simply a lack of overall housing supply. It’s a lack of the right kind of housing — affordable housing for the middle class.

San Jose and Oakland are classic examples of a supply/demand market failure that SB 50 will not solve. For every housing unit constructed, it is quickly snapped up by a highly paid tech or professional worker. With an inexhaustible flood of higher-income new arrivals, the for-profit housing market has failed to build sufficient housing for people with a range of incomes. Indeed, both San Jose and Oakland are on track to exceed their longer-term goals for “market rate” housing, but that’s not affordable for most individuals and families.

So how can we produce enough affordable housing for all Californians?.

In Vienna, Austria, a city of 2 million people, a whole new strategy has been utilized based on the concept of “social housing.” Social housing recognizes that overreliance on the for-profit housing sector often produces perverse results in an overheated housing market like California’s…(more)


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