Homeownership In San Diego

The Union Tribune recently reported on a study showing homeownership rates declining in San Diego County. What is even more important is what the demographics reveal: Everyone does not have an opportunity to attain housing that meets their needs, and a number of factors have made it extremely difficult for numerous people of color to afford a home anywhere in the county.

There is a lot of talk about equity. Equity means everyone has an opportunity to purchase a home. As things stand today, that statement is not true.

Homeownership rates between various ethnicities is wide. White people have a homeownership rate in the 60 percent range, and black people and Hispanics are in the 40 percent range. We should be able to build housing for every income range.Families should be able to buy a small first-time home with an income in the 70 to 90% area median income. In San Diego, that is an income in the range of $80,000 to $90,000 dollars. Sounds doable, but not when you compare it to home prices. And just as important, a wide range of rental units should be available to help families get on their feet or rent a place they are proud to call home.

What we build now is very different than what was traditionally built in the late 60s through the 80s. We used to build a wide range of housing. Think Clairemont – those homes were built for military families returning from service. At the time the federal government had in place redlining that prohibited people of color from buying homes. White families were able to buy a home that was affordable for their income at the time.People of color could not. There were a lot of neighborhoods throughout San Diego County built for middle income wages. A lot of them. White families bought in.

Now time passes and our regulatory process has put so much burden on housing, the costs no longer match middle income wages. Many of the policies put in place in the name of quality of life, such as wide parkways, higher standards for parks, city administration, and street lights to name a few, have significantly increased the cost of housing. Stricter zoning makes choices of types of housing more restrictive, making housing even harder to come by. Every increase in cost makes housing less achievable for your average middle-income family.

Housing is regulated at the state level by 42 agencies. Locally, every city has a say about what housing will look like, where it will be, how dense can it be. As you can imagine, all this regulation adds to a scarcity of housing, despite the need by so many in San Diego County. If you wonder why housing costs are so high, this is why. The solution is to encourage efficient processing of permits, and more production, improving the supply, which will reduce the cost of housing for everyone.

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Building Industry Association of San Diego County
9201 Spectrum Center Blvd., Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92123

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