Dan Walters

Observations on California and its politics
By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
03/17/2015 – 9:56 PM

California’s unfortunate evolution into a society of haves and have-nots has many root causes, but a highly distorted housing market looms very large.

We have the nation’s second highest home prices (only Hawaii is higher) and, not surprisingly, its third lowest level of homeownership.

For homeowners, ever-rising property values may build equity and net worth. But for renters, they mean ever-rising monthly outlays, and for poor families, they mean spending, on average, two-thirds of their meager incomes for shelter.

By the Census Bureau’s alternative method of calculating poverty, 24.3 percent of Californians are impoverished, by far the nation’s highest rate, and the major factor in that unhappy number is that so many pay so much for housing.

In addition to contributing to socio-economic bifurcation, the housing crunch retards efforts to broaden prosperity. It makes the state less competitive in the global competition for the kind of investment capital that creates well-paying, middle-class jobs, not merely enriches a few high-tech whizzes in Silicon Valley.

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