The high cost of housing is leaving California families locked out of homeownership and contributing to persistent homelessness, says RAND economist Jason Ward.
Yet, local policies and politics keep the Golden State from building enough homes to make housing affordable.
Obstacles range from regulation to resistance among residents who fear added housing will make overcrowding worse.
“From a policy perspective, we treat housing as a societal bad,” Ward said.
Yet, standing in the way of new housing is not really in California’s best interest, he said.
“What we’ve really done is made it so expensive here that it’s not really a feasible or even desirable place to live for a lot of people. And along with that comes major problems like homelessness,” Ward said.
A better policy would make the state accessible to a diverse range of people.
“You know,” said Ward, “everyone moved here at some point.”
We recently discussed the housing crisis with Ward, who joined the Santa Monica-based think tank in 2019. His comments have been edited for space.
Q: What’s the most pressing housing issue in California today?
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