Newsom must prioritize affordable middle-class housing

POSTED: 1/7/2019

Author: John Gamboa, Jennifer Hernandez, and Michael Shellenberger

Publication: SF Chronicle

The Hunter's Point Shipyard housing construction along Kirkwood Avenue on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif.

Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle 2018

With a 62 percent electoral mandate, legislative supermajority and large war chest, Gavin Newsom is in a better position than any governor in recent memory to address California’s housing and homelessness crisis.

We have too few homes — that cost too much — and the resulting shame of leading the nation in poverty and homelessness.

Newsom promised strong action to radically increase home production, from today’s 80,000 to more than 500,000 new units per year.

However, expanding rental units and homeless shelters won’t solve the “missing middle” housing plague affecting working Californians. Newsom must also restore homeownership as a top housing priority.

Homeownership is our gateway to the middle class: improved education, health, and an intergenerational financial safety net.

Prioritizing homeownership also fulfills Newsom’s promise to confront racial injustice. After World War II, while banks were “red-lining” black and Latino neighborhoods to deny them mortgage loans, federal, state and local agencies were implementing policies to subsidize home purchases by white families while directing minorities to rentals.

The two most important steps Newsom can take to produce more homes, and make homeownership attainable again for middle-class Californians, is to stop the anti-housing abuse of environmental laws, and to cap government fees on new housing while returning a fair share of property taxes to local governments.


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