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Arguello: Governor’s housing plan harms low-income communities

August 16, 2016

By Martha Dina Arguello, Special : mercurynews – excerpt

California needs a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to increasing affordable housing. The governor’s proposal isn’t it

There is a clear need for more low-income and affordable housing in California. Unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest so-called affordable housing policy favors developers and harms the environment, while doing little to put a roof over the heads of people facing housing insecurity.

Housing in many parts of our state is completely out of reach for many Californians. According to the California Association of Realtors, average home prices in coastal areas range from $782,500 in Santa Clara County to $660,000 in Orange County. In many places, you need at least double the median income to buy a home.

The need for new affordable housing is most acute around transit lines, as low-income residents are less likely to own private cars. That’s exactly where home prices are going up the fastest. A growing number of families must choose between paying rent or buying food and accessing health — basic needs that become unaffordable luxuries.

The governor’s proposal would exempt almost all residential developments from environmental review and community input. It creates a false choice between environmental protection and affordable housing. What’s more, this proposal allows projects near transit that are 95 percent luxury units to bypass environmental review. Creating such a broad exemption is much more likely to put urban dwellers at risk of air pollution and related public health risks than meaningfully increase our affordable housing stock…

California needs a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to increasing affordable housing. The governor’s proposal isn’t it...

Martha Dina Argüello is executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility — Los Angeles. She wrote this for the Mercury News(more)

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