Tenant groups have called for stricter rent control laws, viewing the private market as insufficient in tackling the crisis. Mark Vallianatos, policy director of advocacy group Abundant Housing LA, said government could also increasingly step in to subsidize projects or support nonprofit developers during a down cycle.
"We should use this slowdown as an opportunity to remove barriers to the traditional type of home building and also advance new ones," he said.
In places like Oregon, Nevada and Arizona, it's far easier to build moderately priced housing, said Dan Dunmoyer, president of the California Building Industry Assn. As demand softens, he said, companies in those markets can keep building for longer and, in a downturn, return quicker.
Laurie, of Olson Co., said land sellers also have gotten a bit "more realistic" with their pricing, which could help more builders like him break ground. But it's still hard to find places to build the $400,000-to-$650,000 homes the firm specializes in.
"We want the same thing as the affordable-home buyers -- they want to buy an affordable home and we want to build it," he said. "But right now there is a limited amount of land to build to those price points."
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