California’s Unaffordable “Affordable” Housing Scandal

When discussing the seemingly intractable and growing problem of homeless people living in California, journalists reporting on the issue don’t spend enough time questioning the numbers, much less the policies driving the insane numbers. A recent article in the San Jose Mercury provides a perfect example.

The article gets off to a good start with a provocative, and very informative title. “How much would it cost to house the Bay Area’s homeless? Try $12.7 billion.” Then paragraph two leads off with another bit of vital quantitative information, “With 28,200 homeless residents, the nine-county Bay Area has the fifth-highest concentration of homelessness in the country.”

Ten paragraphs down, the problem is revealed, but not questioned: “By one metric, it would cost $12.7 billion to solve the problem. That’s the price tag to build a new unit of permanent housing for each of the 28,200 residents reported as homeless in the Bay Area in 2017, according to the report. The calculation assumes mid-range construction costs of $450,000 per unit.”

Questions should abound. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars per person? Why is only one person going to live in each of these subsidized units? And why does a housing unit have to cost nearly a half-million dollars? You can buy a ridiculously overpriced four bedroom home in San Jose for under a million dollars, but you can’t build a studio apartment for less than a half-million? Why?

This isn’t an isolated example. The same problem exists in Los Angeles County, […] Read More