Rising rents, the economy, and water – here’s what we’re reading this week
June 17, 2022
The latest news out of California highlights that our biggest issues impact all of us.
As drought worsens, water cuts hurt already vulnerable businesses, prices rise, and Californians struggle to find employment and housing in the wake of an already devastating inflation crisis.
The NCC believes we can overcome these hardships with swift, pragmatic solutions that, in the end, support California’s middle class.
Here are some stories the NCC has been following:
Housing and Homelessness
“It’s no question that affording housing – whether owning or renting – is expensive. While most Americans say they’re spending about 25% of their income on housing expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s not exactly the case in some of California’s biggest cities.”
The COVID pandemic intensified California’s housing affordability problem and forced the state to take urgent steps to secure emergency shelter for its unhoused population. Even in the wake of the global health crisis, the state is still reeling, facing increasing housing instability and a homelessness crisis that is enduring and more-and-more complex.
Approximately 160,000 Californians are unsheltered as affordable housing for so many continues to be difficult to come by.”
“Home ownership trends in California” - Public Policy Institute of California
“Homeownership has long been a central feature of the American dream. It is the leading source of wealth for most families, and over the long run provides families with more stable and lower housing costs compared to renting. Yet—primarily because of the state’s high housing prices—homeownership is out of the reach of many Californians. Racial gaps in homeownership are large and persistent. Fast-rising home prices threaten to make homeownership further out of reach for low- and middle-income Californians.”
Get ready for another gas tax increase” - Cal Matters
“July 1 is shaping up to be a big day for California.
That’s when the Golden State’s sky-high gas prices are set to tick up even more due to a scheduled increase to the excise tax rate, which will tack nearly 3 cents per gallon onto prices at the pump. On Wednesday, drivers were already paying an average of $6.44 for a gallon of regular gas, compared to the national average of $5.01.”
“Inflation looks like ‘a losing battle’ in Southern California” - The Los Angeles Times
“As U.S. inflation hit a four-decade high, rising prices in Southern California — where costs of shelter and food are among the highest in the nation — are warping the fabric of daily life: Shoppers are cutting grocery budgets, businesses are scaling back operations and low-wage workers are seeing their paychecks eaten away at the gas pump.”
“Smithfield Foods is withdrawing from California by early next year, citing red tape like that from Proposition 12 and the generally high costs of doing business in the state.”
“California lawmakers pass $300 billion budget, but haggling continues on gas relief” - East Bay Times
“The California Legislature passed a massive $300 billion budget on Monday, but negotiations over key sticking points with Gov. Gavin Newsom – including billions of dollars in financial relief payouts – are still at the center of heated negotiations.
Monday’s vote approves a placeholder budget sometimes derided as a “sham” budget, which allows the Legislature to meet a June 15 deadline to pass a spending plan to keep getting their paychecks as they hammer out the thorniest appropriation issues ahead of the July 1 fiscal year.”
“Cruelest summer yet? California is facing drought, heat, blackouts and fires — all at once” - San Francisco Chronicle
“Already in California, climate volatility, as palpable as it’s been, has joined the list of reasons people cite for wanting to move away, after soaring home prices, high taxes and traffic. The state’s population, which had grown for decades, dropped in each of the past two years.”
“Column: I drove all over LA talking to voters. They’re irritated, fatigued, deeply cynical” - The Los Angeles Times
And then there were those who, in addition to being fatigued and irritated, are deeply cynical. They’ve lost faith that anyone will fix L.A.'s major problems, including the high cost of living in a city with a low-wage economy.
“How San Francisco became a failed city” - The Atlantic
“Residents had hoped Boudin would reform the criminal-justice system and treat low-level offenders more humanely. Instead, critics argued that his policies victimized victims, allowed criminals to go free to reoffend, and did nothing to help the city’s most vulnerable. To understand just how noteworthy Boudin’s defenestration is, please keep in mind that San Francisco has only a tiny number of Republicans. This fight is about leftists versus liberals. It’s about idealists who think a perfect world is within reach—it’ll only take a little more time, a little more commitment, a little more funding, forever—and those who are fed up.”