Tackling California’s Housing Crisis: 6 Innovative Solutions for Affordable Housing

housing crisis california

Everyone should have a positive and affordable place to call home. Currently, there’s more demand for housing than homes available in California, leading to a housing crisis. 

The costs of owning or renting a home have increased greatly for everyone, including owners, renters, and builders. Many families face a tough choice between paying for essential things like food, transportation, and healthcare or paying for their home. In extreme cases, some people have to leave their houses or communities.

This blog now discusses a few tips for resolving the housing crisis in California with innovative solutions for affordable housing.

6 Innovative Affordable Housing Solutions

Here are the 6 groundbreaking approaches that deal with housing shortage, safeguard existing housing, and empower residents to stay in their communities:

1. Expanding Community Land Trusts

A community land trust (CLT) allows local communities to work together and own land. It’s a special way of managing property that helps communities meet their specific needs, such as creating affordable housing, caring for community spaces, and preserving parks and gardens.

CLTs have been around for a long time. The first one in the U.S. was formed in 1969 during the Civil Rights era to support Black residents and farmers who were not allowed to own land. Now, CLTs are important for communities to control land and provide homes that stay affordable for a long time.

2. Exploring New Methods for Constructing and Producing Homes

High building costs make it difficult to afford a home, especially in California. One potential solution to increasing construction costs is considering new ways of building, including modular construction, panelized construction, 3D printing, and repurposed shipping containers.

These methods are still new, but they could be a game-changer, making homes more affordable and filling the gap between the number of houses we need and the number of houses we have. 

3. Increasing Access to Home Financing

Many places in the US, like California, have limited access to affordable financial services, making it harder to buy a house. This gap is especially big between Black and white people. During 2020, Black applicants were denied mortgages much more often than white applicants. It makes solutions like equity-centered financing essential to solving the housing crisis. 

It means providing loans and financial services designed to help people who may not qualify for traditional loans, like those in underserved communities. A few non-profit organizations offer financial services and loans to small businesses, families, and even people building extra living spaces on their property. These efforts help people build wealth and become homeowners, strengthening communities.

4. Advancing Cross-sector Housing Solutions

Solving the housing affordability crisis requires everyone to work together. Cross-sector housing solutions are an effective way to do this. These solutions involve different groups working together to address various community challenges, like ensuring everyone has fair access to housing, healthcare, transportation, and job opportunities.

One example of this approach is the Partnership for the Bay’s Future (PBF). It started in 2019 and aims to protect around 175,000 households and create over 8,000 homes in the Bay Area in the next decade. PBF also supports policies that help keep housing affordable and protect renters through its Policy Fund. Moreover, it invests directly in projects that build more affordable homes for people of all backgrounds through its investment arm, the Bay’s Future Fund. 

5. Transforming Underutilized Spaces into Affordable Homes

California is experiencing a surge in housing demand, and innovative solutions are emerging to meet this challenge. An innovative idea is being implemented in California through the Homekey initiative. Starting in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Homekey has set aside $1.4 billion to help local agencies buy unused properties like hotels, motels, and school lots and turn them into affordable housing. This initiative has successfully provided homes for over 8,000 people and created nearly 6,000 housing units in California.

This approach also has the potential to help California’s education workforce. Many teachers and staff struggle with rising living costs; some are even forced to leave their communities or change careers. A solution to this is converting the large lots of California’s 75,000 acres of school property into housing for public school teachers and staff. The California School Boards Association and local school districts are starting to explore this idea to make better use of underused school lands.

6. Preserving Lower-cost Housing

According to a report, the cost of living in California is very high. When you consider the cost of living, a fifth of the people in California are finding it hard to manage financially. A crucial aspect of solving this problem is safeguarding what’s known as naturally occurring affordable housing—these are existing, older, and affordable rental properties owned by small landlords.

In California, the Los Angeles Local Rental Owners Collaborative (LROC) was started in 2021 and helps local landlords and residents in high-cost areas, preventing people from being forced to move. LROC is doing this by assisting landlords in lowering costs, adding value to their properties, and offering free property management tools. Also, they give grants to help with rental losses, provide financial advice, and help landlords navigate relief programs at the local, state, and federal levels.

Solutions to Affordable Housing Crisis with BFPM

It is challenging to solve the problem of expensive housing, and there needs to be a solution. It would require a positive, all-inclusive effort from activists, organizers, nonprofits, businesses, and community members to make a real and lasting difference in housing affordability.

At BFPM, we are working with community groups and organizations focused on affordable housing to ensure everyone, regardless of their background or income, can live, work, and succeed in California and beyond. 

Feel free to contact us for affordable housing or property management queries.

Trevor Henson

Trevor Henson is an experienced entrepreneur (10+ highly-successful start-ups) and property investor with a demonstrated history of building and leading teams in investment property management environments, maximizing returns for property owners, and optimizing properties through construction management and re-positioning. He…
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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

California's housing crisis is complex, making finding a single solution challenging. However, several approaches and strategies could significantly improve the situation:

  • Increasing housing supply
  • Protecting tenants and promoting affordability
  • Addressing affordability concerns