East Bay for Everyone is a membership organization devoted to building just cities through housing, land use and mobility policies. In addition to supporting zoning reform and tenant protections, East Bay for Everyone recognizes the need for social housing policy to address affordability and ownership in the provision of housing for low and middle-income people. Accordingly, East Bay for Everyone’s Social Housing Working Group has developed a white paper entitled: “California Housing Corporation: The Case for a Public Sector Developer.”

California has a shortage of an estimated 3.5 million homes, including 1.5 million homes affordable to lower-income households. While private sector developers are critical to meeting this goal, they are not sufficient on their own for three basic reasons.

  1. Wages are too low for millions of California households to afford new or even filtered private rental housing without a debilitating cost burden. Overcrowded and unsafe housing conditions or grueling mega-commutes are the daily reality for many. These households need more affordable housing options, especially near jobs and transit.
  2. In a volatile business cycle, private housing production plummets in downturns as investment flees for safer returns and the construction workforce shrinks. While our homeless population grows, blue collar layoffs and empty lots abound. California must build 250,000 units per year to address its housing shortage; it cannot afford two or three years of producing a mere 50,000 units. 
  3. Neither private  for-profit nor nonprofit affordable housing developers are producing modern housing affordable to middle-income households. Market housing costs are too high for them, but oversubscribed subsidies primarily target low-income households.