CA Liberals Blocking Housing for Poor

MARCH 21, 2012


We are hearing a lot about how California cannot close a $10 billion budget gap.  But California has allowed 400 redevelopment agencies to retain about $2 billion in funds set aside for so-called “affordable housing.”

Note: We’re not talking here about “public housing,” which is properties owned by the government.

Affordable housing is where the government promotes the development and use of private properties at below-market costs to low-income people.

Question: Should the government eliminate affordable housing when:

* The median home price in California for February 2012 was $239,000, or 67.4 percent below the 2006 peak price in the real estate cycle.

* Mortgage interest rates are at an all time low?

* The typical state mortgage payment in February 2012 was $901 per month, while 30 percent of the median household income was $1,522 per month? Thirty percent of median household income is the conventionally accepted definition of affordable housing by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

* The state’s definition of “affordable housing” is new housing often with luxury amenities? The traditional definition of affordable housing has been older, obsolescent housing not located near public services.

How vital is the role of state-mandated affordable housing quotas that siphon local property taxes from public safety and schools?

Liberal Cities Block New Housing Permits

A new study by urban economist Matthew Kahn at the UCLA Institute of the Environment has found that communities with a “liberal political ideology” block new housing construction compared to similarly located cities.   Kahn’s study adjusted for such variable as income, education and housing density.  So his findings do not reflect NIMBY-ism — Not-In-My-Back-Yard — opposition to affordable housing.

Kahn’s study was of 317 California cities within 35 miles of a central business district. The cities represented 73.5 percent of the state’s population.

Kahn found that “liberal political ideology” was the most determinant factor in predicting “slow growth” policies.  “Liberal ideology” was measured by the percentage of “liberal voters” registered in the Democratic Party, Green Party and Peace and Freedom Party.  Also associated with a “liberal ideology” was the percentage of “green product” purchases such as Toyota Prius ownership.

Kahn’s major finding: A 10 percent increase in those with a liberal ideology in a city is associated with a 30 percent decline in new building permits.

Can we continue to afford siphoning scarce property taxes to build new affordable housing in liberal cities that block new housing permits? Do statewide affordable housing mandates do more harm than good?

Currently, those relatively wealthier cities in California that do not comply with their state-mandated affordable housing quotas forfeit their share of HUD Community Development Block Grant funds.  Those forfeited funds are, in turn, diverted to low-income communities. So state affordable housing quotas are another wealth redistribution scheme.

List of cities and counties with Green Party office holders in California:

1. Los Angeles
2. Fairfax, Marin County
3. Crest/Harrison Canyon/Granite Hill, San Diego County
4. Oak Tree, Nevada County
5. Granada, San Mateo County
6. Humboldt Countgy
7. City of Alameda, Alameda County
8. Lake County
9. Montara, San Mateo County
10. Santa Barbara County
11. Mendocino County
12. Richmond, Contra Costa County
13. Arcata, Humboldt County
14. Canyon Township, Contra Costa County
15. Berkeley, Alameda County
16. San Pedro, Los Angeles County

Ten Most Ideologically Liberal Cities in California:

1. San Francisco
2. Oakland
3. Berkeley
4. Richmond
5. Inglewood
6. Compton
7. Emeryville
8. Albany
9. San Pablo
10. Fairfax

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