Citing regulatory barriers, high costs and fewer public resources, the California Department of Housing and Community Development reported earlier this year that the state isn’t keeping up with housing demand. Through the last 10 years, 80,000 new homes were built on average annually, in contrast to demand for 180,000 homes each year. If growth trends continue, 1.8 million new homes will be needed just by 2025.
Overall the state of housing is grim in the Golden State, known for some of the highest price tags for homes in the country and an overall home ownership rate at its lowest since the 1940s. Renters, who at the end of the day own nothing, have major outlays of cash too. The majority of California renters pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent, and nearly one-third of renters pay more than 50 percent of their income.
Then there are those without any housing at all – California accounts for 12 percent of U.S. population, but 22 percent of the nation’s homeless. The state is home to one third of the nation’s welfare recipients; 20 percent of the people here live in poverty. It’s also home to an estimated 2 to 3 million illegal residents, who often are poor and at a disadvantage because they don’t speak English and may have limited education and skills.
It’s not surprising then that the report finds the highest housing growth is expected in communities with “environmental and social economic disparities.”
So perhaps it’s time to take off some of the pressure by slowing the perpetual population growth machine. Today’s California has 39 million people – up from 20 million in 1970 – and is on a trajectory of 50 million by 2050, with 40 percent of the growth expected in Southern California.
Good weather and natural beauty may no longer be sufficient perks to live in California when paired against overpopulation and increasing crowding, heavy taxes, traffic gridlock and less open space, as larger portions of income have to be shelled out just to keep a roof overhead.