True Equity Starts with Homeownership as Coalition Calls for Increased Funding for Construction of Owner-Occupied Homes in Governor’s May Revise Budget
Ownership housing is the best strategy to help low-income Californians escape poverty
SACRAMENTO (April 5) – More middle-class Californians and the businesses that employ them cite a lack of homeownership opportunity as the primary reason for moving out of state. This creates a growing and troubling income and wealth inequality gap within the state. To help remedy this serious problem, a coalition of REALTORS®, homebuilders and affordable housing producers has asked in a letter to Legislative Budget Committee leaders to allocate a greater portion of the state’s projected budget surplus to owner-occupied housing programs. The broad coalition includes Habitat for Humanity California (HHC), CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.), California Building Industry Association (CBIA), Casita Coalition, YIMBY, Housing Action Coalition, The Two Hundred, Greenbelt Alliance, California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Mighty Buildings.
“Until California truly prioritizes affordable homeownership, a generation of Californians will be effectively barred from one of the most reliable forms of wealth generation available: owning a home,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord). “We have the opportunity with this budget to support permanent housing solutions and invest in the future of first-time homebuyers, and I’m proud of the coalition we’ve built to help see these goals achieved.”
State investment in affordable homeownership developments offers permanent housing solutions and a stronger return on investment because it is one-time project funding. The one-time investment achieves immediate and long-term goals by increasing the supply of permanently affordable housing stock and providing economic stability and financial independence for families through fixed, affordable mortgages and equity earning opportunities.
In contrast, if the State’s investment remains primarily limited to rental housing programs with subsidies year after year, we fail to provide long-term stability or financial independence for families and individuals served. Rents rise year after year and renters are stretched and dependent on the subsidy without an opportunity to save and improve their situation.
“Californians, regardless of race, ethnicity or income status deserve equal access to the benefits that only come from owning a home,” said CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® President Otto Catrina. “When Californians are willing to leave the state in search of an affordable home, political leaders need to reevaluate housing policies and prioritize affordable owner-occupied homes. People should be able to build equity for themselves instead of paying rent to a landlord. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, renting means you’re always on the edge of homelessness.”
In this year’s proposed State Budget for 2022-23, only $69.56 million is allocated for homeownership programs, which is not even 3.5% of the funds allocated for deed restricted rental housing programs.
“When rents and home prices are increasing faster than wages, saving enough for a down payment is beyond reach for most Californians,” said Debbie Arakel, Habitat for Humanity California. “To provide lower-income and families of color greater housing security, the state’s housing programs must increase the stock of affordable owner-occupied homes. Not before the inventory increases will home prices stabilize to afford more Californians the benefits of homeownership.”
Homeownership provides working families economic stability and strengthens underserved communities that have historically experienced low levels of homeownership. When the median home price in California is expected to surpass $830,000 in 2022, California’s 2020 overall homeownership rate has declined to just 56%. Among the state’s largest ethnic group, Latinos, it’s 46% and only 37% of Black families own their home.
“Increasing homeownership is a must for leveling-out wealth and equity gaps in California,” said Dan Dunmoyer, President and CEO of the California Building Industry Association. “Because homeownership is absolutely critical for generational wealth-building, the Governor and legislature should work together to allocate a greater share of the budget surplus to address inequities in homeownership by investing in owner-occupied homes.”
In a letter to Budget Committee leaders, the coalition requests that the 2022-2023 State Budget increase funding for affordable homeownership opportunities for working Californians and specifically to allocate $400 million for programs funding the development of affordable deed restricted ownership housing, including a minimum of $200 million for the existing CalHome program, along with a cap increase up to $250,000/unit and up to 10 million/project and $200 million for the state’s existing down payment assistance programs.
About the California Association of REALTORS®
Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with more than 200,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.
About Habitat for Humanity California
Habitat for Humanity California is a statewide coalition of independent Habitat affiliates that serve communities across California. Habitat affiliates develop and preserve affordable homes, bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. Habitat California advocates for affordable housing with specific focus on homeownership opportunities for families with limited incomes.
About California Building Industry Association
The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association based in Sacramento representing thousands of member companies including homebuilders, trade contractors, architects, engineers, designers, suppliers and industry professionals in the homebuilding, multi-family and mixed-use development markets.