Real Affordable Housing

Crowding into homes and apartments is becoming common for families and young folks throughout our district who are struggling to pay the rent each month. Thousands of hard-working residents are barely able to keep a roof over their heads, people are moving farther away from their work, and many may be forced to leave.

Buying a house is now out of reach for most people in our region. The median home price in Salinas is approaching $500,000. In Watsonville it is $650,000 and in Santa Cruz it’s now over $900,000. These high prices are making it difficult to hire and retain teachers and other critical people in our region.

The truth is that market-rate housing has become unaffordable for our district’s working families. This problem has been getting worse and it is time that our federal government once again invests in public housing that we can afford, as it did before budgets were slashed in the 1980s.

My cousin and her partner live in beautiful and affordable federal public housing near Fort Ord in Seaside. Without this housing, they might be forced to move away.

We must renew federal investment in truly affordable housing in partnership with local and state government. Without a stable and adequate funding stream our cities are at the mercy of private developers that aren’t interested in building the housing we need. Given our limited water supply, the majority of new housing we build should be affordable, non-market rate housing.

We also need greater coordination and planning across our region to connect our homes, workplaces, and schools with clean and reliable transportation options, which is part of the Green New Deal.

Truly affordable housing for middle and low income families will allow people to live better lives and help stop homelessness. The approximate homeless population of our district is estimated to be around 5,000 people, many of whom simply cannot afford the rent or have been bankrupted by medical debt.

While our wages have stagnated, rents have skyrocketed and home values have doubled. We must make a commitment to increase the National Housing Trust Fund and fully fund the Section 8 housing voucher program to give our families the rental assistance they badly need.