Great Ideas: The Not-So-Secret California Crisis that’s Coming for the Rest of America

Affordable housing is the kind of issue that people love not to think about. It rarely generates a lot of political heat, and in rural areas, it’s barely an afterthought. But guess what the top issue in the California legislature is this year. 31 bills were signed by the governor last month that were all housing bills. In California, and increasingly in much of America, a lack of affordable housing is the key issue, and also a burning problem that drives a lot of the other things we think about in policy. The definition of affordable housing is people spending no more than 30% of their gross income on housing. In California, the majority of households are now spending more than 50%. But it’s not just California. It’s a growing problem in a lot of places. In Maine, one out of every 5 households is spending half of their gross income on housing.

Our guest Sibley Simon – an innovative affordable housing developer – described how California is sending the rest of America a scary postcard from the future of what an affordable housing crunch looks like, and he explained the kinds of fresh ideas they are trying and that we will need to solve the problem.