Silicon Valley housing costs cause 'widespread economic distress' – so what can we do?

This affordable housing complex was developed by MidPen Housing in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Without a doubt, high housing costs affect everyone in Silicon Valley. From families that double up in apartments or houses to share the rent, to those who flee to less expensive outlying towns – everyone has a story. Even residents able to pay high prices encounter fierce bidding wars for homes and apartments.

Housing Brief

Silicon Valley's
Housing Crisis:

How did we get here, and what can we do about it?

With the tech economy booming, the affordable housing challenge has worsened in recent years. This is causing “widespread economic distress among many low- and middle-income residents,” according to a new housing policy brief from SVCF and the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

In this publication – titled “Silicon Valley’s Housing Crisis: How did we get here, and what can we do about it?” – we looked at some of the reasons for Silicon Valley’s lack of affordable housing and some of the effects of that scarcity.

Our research shows that local governments have issued only about one quarter of the building permits needed to fulfill the demand for new low- and moderate-income housing. There are a multitude of reasons for this failure, ranging from neighborhood opposition to new housing to delays related to the California Environmental Quality Act.

So, residents in search of affordable housing are hurt by the shortfall of home construction. But they’re further harmed because housing costs have been rising faster than wages in Silicon Valley, according to the brief.

Though the situation is decidedly bleak, there are actions that could help increase the supply of housing. Among our recommendations:

  • Streamline permitting processes for affordable housing statewide
  • Reform the California Environmental Quality Act to curtail excess litigation
  • Change the voting majority required for housing bond measure passage to a simple majority

Read the brief for more details.

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