By Bettye Miller
California faces a critical shortage of affordable housing, and nowhere is that problem more severe than in the Inland Empire. The need for more affordable housing in the region, and possible policy solutions, will be discussed in a seminar presented Wednesday, Feb. 18, by the UC Riverside Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.
“Affordable Housing: A Shortage Crisis,” part of the center’s on-going Randall Lewis Seminar Series, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology, 1084 Columbia Ave. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required as seating is limited. RSVP online or by calling (951) 827-7830.
“Affordability of housing is one of the most critical issues facing this region,” said Ron Loveridge, a UCR political science professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development. “Southern California hosts the highest housing costs in the country. The future of Inland Southern California will be importantly tied to the cost of housing. Who lives here? Who stays here? Why are housing costs here so high, particularly in comparison with most other regions of the country? And perhaps more importantly, what changes are possible, and how do they happen? ”
Drawing from a special report – “America’s Emerging Housing Crisis,” published by nonprofit affordable housing developer National Community Renaissance – seminar moderator Steve PonTell will frame the issue and present seven policy solutions offered by report authors Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford and former Riverside city planning director Ken Gutierrez will respond to reforms proposed by the report to reduce the cost of housing, including: land regulation reform, impact fees reform and reduction, establishment of special housing districts, re-use of vacant commercial and industrial space, development of government land where appropriate, re-ordering local planning and zoning priorities, and meeting environmental goals by considering the changing nature of work and the new possibilities suggested by technological innovation.
In “America’s Emerging Housing Crisis,” Kotkin and Cox note that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation (when adjusted for the cost of housing), largely due to housing prices. On a percentage basis, four of California’s major metropolitan areas are in the nation’s top 10 in households with more than one family sharing a housing unit, they wrote. The top two are Riverside-San Bernardino and Los Angeles.
A Feb. 18 seminar on the shortage of affordable housing will feature (from left) Steve PonTell, president and CEO of National Community Renaissance, San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, and former Riverside planning director Ken Gutierrez.