Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
January 16, 2016 9:54 AM

  • California falls short in meeting housing demand
  • Shortage pushes costs, especially rents, sky-high
  • Politicians talk about it, but do little

It’s time once again for some fun with numbers, in this case the data on California’s serious – and worsening – housing crisis.

Since 2010, the state’s population has risen by 1.8 million to 39 million human beings who live – most of them, anyway – in 14 million units of housing of all types.

That translates into an average of 2.78 persons per dwelling, implying that since 2010, we’ve needed about 650,000 new units to keep pace with population growth, or about 130,000 a year.

However, the Great Recession clobbered housing construction, which fell to as low as 44,000 units in 2010 and has averaged only 70,000 a year during the decade so far, half the demand.

Housing production has since climbed to 100,000 a year, but even at that level, it’s just three-quarters of what’s needed – not counting the backlog shortage of 300,000-plus units just since 2010.

The result is a severe squeeze, particularly acute in major metropolitan areas, that has pushed housing costs sky-high, especially rents and especially in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan regions.

Zumper’s national rent survey in December found four of the nation’s 10 highest rental markets in California, topped by San Francisco’s average of $3,500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Zumper’s national rent survey in December found four of the nation’s 10 highest rental markets in California, topped by San Francisco’s average of $3,500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Housing costs are, according to the Census Bureau and the Public Policy Institute of California, the major factor in the state having the nation’s highest level of functional poverty.

To read expanded column, click here.