Too many see housing as out of reach. Creating jobs without providing access to affordable housing drives up income inequality and drives down consumer spending which, in turn, slows the economy. It is a current economic fact that housing costs continue to rise while wages and income for working families is stagnant.
Housing is a fundamental need. No Californian should have to choose between paying for housing or buying groceries. On the campaign trail running for State Assembly, I have heard testimonials like Teresa’s, a single Mom working two jobs living in Temecula who struggles every day with the choice of putting food on the table for her kids and saving enough for her monthly rent.
California is leading the national recovery and has the 5th largest economy in the world, but it is producing far more jobs than homes. The current housing shortage costs our economy $140 billion per year in lost economic opportunity. Equally concerning, business employers know that the high cost of housing impedes the ability to attract and retain the best workers.
Since 2005, California has only produced 308 new housing units for every 1000 new residents. California is projected to grow to 50 million residents by the year 2050. These statistics are untenable and have brought us to a housing crisis.
We can manage a Smart Growth plan. Cities are unmotivated to create housing in California because the property taxes do not fuel their budgets. Building retail creates sales tax revenue that does fuel their budgets. We must reverse these motivational barriers to building affordable housing.
When I’m elected to the State Assembly, I will work with the next Governor toward a Smart Growth plan.
First, this November, we must pass the $4 billion statewide bond measure for affordable housing. Next, let’s double the $85 million in tax credits to encourage investment in affordable housing. Let’s build a strong middle housing supply and support working families by streamlining regulations to make it easier for builders to produce housing. Further, lets provide access to tax increment financing, a tool successfully used by prior redevelopment agencies. Let’s create a public state bank that invests in infrastructure and housing.
A Smart Growth plan will require the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) to be done annually or biannually. Let’s link transportation funding to housing goals and move light rail projects forward like the Temecula to San Diego Mission Valley Sprinter project.
Finally, let’s be smart about the realities surrounding homelessness and promote an Interagency Council on Community Solutions. Let’s fund in-reach programs in our state prisons to prevent inmates from being released into homelessness. Lastly, lets enhance programs like the Housing Disability Assistance Program which provides SSI advocacy services to chronically homeless adults. By expanding social services, including mental health in our healthcare, bridge housing and permanent supportive housing, we can win and change the trajectory of homelessness.
There are many components of this Smart Growth plan, but with the political will to get the job done; we can stop the patchwork development that passes without infrastructure, schools or traffic mitigation plans.
With your support, working as your new State Assemblymember, I will go to the State Capitol and put these Smart Growth solutions in place.
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Alan Geraci is a consumer attorney, father, youth sports coach and community leader running to represent the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Escondido, Valley Center, San Marcos, Fallbrook and Temecula.