A website MyWay.com is reporting of tensions mounting in the Northern California City of Antioch, California over an influx of low income tenants moving into the area. http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081230/D95D896O0.html
What the article fails to report is that Antioch was subject to an unfair allocation of low income housing imposed on it by the Association of Bay Area Governments. This writer reported on the unfairness of Antioch's low income housing allocation in an article published in the Antioch Press on August 17, 2007. Below is the text of that article which foresaw the problems now unfolding:
What is a Fair Share of Low Income Housing?
Antioch Press, August 17, 2007:
Mayor Don Freitas is quoted as saying (“Council fights low income housing,” Brentwood Press, Sept. 15, 2006): “So when communities like Antioch or eastern Contra Costa County begin to get the lion’s share of low-to-moderate-income housing, that’s why we get our backs up and start pounding our chest and saying, ‘Wait a minute, this is not fair and this is not equitable,’ and it seems to be that the policies that we have are ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ policies.”
But what is a fair share of affordable housing?
The national homeownership rate was 55.0 percent in 1950. Contrary to popular notions, since 1960 the homeownership rate in the United States has increased 6.8 percent from 62.1 percent to 68.9 percent. The homeownership rate in the United States in 2005 was similar to that in other modern nations – at 68.9 percent. It is not that the homeownership rate in California has fallen but that it has lagged behind the relative rise outside of California and in the inland areas of the state.
In Northern California, one’s chance of home ownership increases greatest, from 57.1 percent to 61.9 percent, if one moves from the Bay Area to Sacramento. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the homeownership rate in the Bay Area actually increased from 1994 to 2005 from 53.8 percent to 57.1 percent, a 3.9 percent increase. Why should Antioch have disproportionate quotas of low- and moderate-income housing imposed on it, leaving unaffordable cities and counties in the Bay Area with relatively light quotas?
The U.S. Census reports that California homeownership actually increased 1.6 percent, from 55.4 percent to 57.0 percent, between 1995 and 2005. Contrary to another popular misconception, homeownership rates in California have always hovered in the 50 percent range, growing from 54.3 percent in 1950 to 57.1 percent in 2000. So why do we consider that we have a housing affordability crisis in California now if we didn’t consider it so in 1950?
As for apartment housing, there is not even reliable data from which to ascertain if there is an actual rather than just a perceived affordability crisis.
Survey after survey is trotted out by local government agencies using the apartment rents in brand-new luxury apartments or Class A apartment buildings, which typically have amenities such as pools and gyms and are located near convenient shopping centers or light rail stations.
True affordable housing is old, small, unrenovated, of undistinctive design, not near shopping, freeways or public transit, and usually owned by a mom-and-pop landlord. But these aren’t counted in low-income housing surveys. Only “new rooftops” meet the state housing mandate criteria.
According to the U.S. Census, about 23.1 percent of individuals in Antioch are considered in poverty compared to 13.3 percent for the state and 23.3 percent in the county. By this criterion, there is no basis for imposing affordable housing quotas on Antioch because it already has its fair share of such housing.
Affordable housing mandates in California are a bottomless pit and have no measure by which to judge success because the number of newly arriving immigrants in poverty grows daily, the proportion of renters who desire to be homeowners is endless, and the affordability of apartment rents is unknown.
How do we know if Antioch already has met its fair share of affordable housing? We don’t and we can’t because there is no such fair-share standard in the first place. The quotas are well-disguised political contrivances apparently meant to achieve more of a political balance of low-income residents in selected counties and cities. It is difficult to see housing quotas as anything but Stalin-like attempts at politicized population engineering.
Wayne Lusvardi, a Pasadena resident, is a former low-income housing analyst for Los Angeles County.
For related article read: "Inclusionary Housing is Sociological Suicide" here