May 11, 2020
Welcome to the May 11, 2020 Main Edition of The HomeWork, the official newsletter of California YIMBY — legislative updates, news clips, housing research and analysis, and the latest writings from the California YIMBY team.
Rumors of the death of all housing production bills have been greatly exaggerated. Many proposals are approaching their first policy debates in the Legislature; consensus is building that more housing — and the jobs that housing can bring — are needed to combat the economic impacts of COVID-19.
California YIMBY is currently focused on two bills:
- AB 3155 and SB 902 would make it easier and less expensive for “mom and pop” builders of small apartments and fourplexes to build more homes. AB 3155 would allow small builders (10 units or less) to take advantage of the streamlining provisions of SB 35, while SB 902 would allow up to up to fourplexes on most properties (similar to recent changes in laws regarding “granny flats”).
On May 20th, the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee will hear a raft of important bills. Bay Area YIMBY Alfred Twu broke them down in this graphic:
California: Worse on Overcrowding than New York
It’s one thing to feel claustrophobic in a crowded theater, but when it comes to housing, the term “crowding” has a very specific meaning — namely, too many people living in a single home.
Just how “crowded” are California’s cities compared to the nation’s densest metropolis? We sent California YIMBY’s data analyst Darrell Owens off on a number-crunching expedition, and he returned with some startling statistics: Our state has among the highest overcrowding rates in the country. According to data on California cities and the American Housing Survey, many Californians live in conditions that are more crowded than New York City.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines overcrowding as more than 1 person per room, on average; severe overcrowding is more than 1.5 people per room. Remember, that’s not per bedroom, just per room.
- California has two regions with the highest overcrowding rates in the country. San Francisco and Los Angeles both have higher percentages of overcrowded households than New York, though they both have less than half of New York’s population-weighted density. The Los Angeles region has more than double the rate of severe overcrowding (1.5%) as New York (0.69%).
- This pattern is reflected at both the regional and municipal level. The city of Los Angeles has more overcrowded homes as a share of its residents (13.2%) than New York City proper (9%), and the Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has a higher rate of overcrowding (7.5%) than the New York metro area (3.85%).
- Consistent with this pattern, the city of San Jose has more overcrowded households than San Francisco, even though it also has less than a third of its population density. Philadelphia is nearly four times denser than Phoenix, yet Phoenix has a much higher rate of overcrowding (6.6%) than Philadelphia (2.6%).
COVicted: A scorecard on nationwide eviction protections
Which states are doing the most to protect tenants from evictions during the COVID-19 crisis? As millions across the country lose jobs, income, and face housing insecurity, researchers from the Eviction Lab and Columbia University assembled an important scorecard assessing each state’s emergency protections from evictions. While no state received a perfect score, California’s statewide policy was scored a scant 1.88 out of 5—just behind Kentucky, Kansas, and Rhode Island.
- Massachusetts, Delaware, and Connecticut have overall the strongest tenant protections in the country.
- California has some protections that higher scorers do not. For example, unlike Massachusetts (4/5 stars), California seals court eviction case records if the case is denied or dismissed, while legislation that would seal eviction records in Massachusetts is still pending. Unlike Minnesota, California has taken steps to prevent utility shut-offs.
- California lags behind Rhode Island and Kansas because it still allows most court filings, except for evicting tenants facing direct COVID-19 hardship, while suspending hearings and extending deadlines by 90 days. Rhode Island prohibits eviction filings for nonpayment, and Kansas goes further by prohibiting landlords from serving an initial notice to quit.
- The Cities We Need
- On housing, California must follow the evidence
- Win for YIMBYs: Housing development may proceed
- Housing is still short
- Is density really to blame for coronavirus?
- Density Isn’t Easy. But It’s Necessary.
- No, Cars Did Not Save California from the Worst of Coronavirus
Housing & Social Equity Series: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap – the Role of Housing
As a part of our Housing & Social Equity Series, we’re sitting down with experts from the Greenlining Institute and The 200 to discuss how expanding pathways to homeownership can help close the racial wealth gap and advance economic equity for marginalized communities.
Housing Production and Affordability with Evan Mast
How can we build more affordable homes for ALL Californians?
Join us in a conversation with Evan Mast, an Applied Microeconomist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, as we seek solutions to the enduring challenge of the housing shortage.
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