California lawmakers have tried for 50 years to fix the state’s housing crisis. Here’s why they’ve failed

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California’s housing affordability troubles have contributed to the state’s poverty rate, which is the highest in the nation. It also has burdened millions with high rents and, according to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute, created a more than $100-billion annual drag on the state economy by lowering disposable incomes and limiting construction jobs.

Ben Metcalf, the state’s top housing official, has said the affordability problems are as bad as they’ve ever been in California’s history. And the state is expected to add an additional 6.5 million people over the next two decades.

The primary driver of the affordability problem is a lack of home building. Developers in California need to roughly double the 100,000 homes they build each year to stabilize housing costs, according to the McKinsey studyand reports from the state Department of Housing and Community Development and nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

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