The housing burden is heavy in California, and especially in Santa Barbara County. Wages have not come close to keeping up with housing costs. In fact, our county is the fifth least affordable small metropolitan housing market in the nation. In our state, the lowest wage earners spend a crushing 67% of their income on housing. Most of those on the long waiting list for affordable housing fall into the extreme low-income category and may be at risk of becoming homeless. The pain is also being felt among middle income earners who are being priced out of the market. In the last decade the percentage of middle income households has decreased dramatically on the more expensive South Coast, as the gap between housing prices and median household incomes continues to widen drastically. This results in the loss of a key demographic, our workforce, which is needed for community health and vitality.
As the supply of housing fails to keep up with demand, the prices continue to rise for prospective buyers and renters; making housing increasingly unaffordable for local residents across the income spectrum. Many must accept a long commute if they chose to stay with their current employer. This makes it more difficult for employers to attract and retain a talented workforce. And so the cycle continues.
Through 2023 the Santa Barbara Foundation is focused on finding opportunities to engage and partner with social and private sector leaders working on workforce housing to determine how best to address the challenges. Affordability and accessibility of suitable housing for working families is a main priority. We will seek out new policies and innovation to eliminate barriers to the creation of more workforce housing for a growing region.
If you are interested in contributing to the solutions, we welcome your partnership and appreciate your support.
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BY JORDAN KILLEBREW The 1921 U.S. Supreme Court case of Block v. Hirsch declared that housing is a “necessity of life.” Yet across our nation, healthy and affordable homes are […]