Esmeralda Quintero

Esmeralda Quintero

National headlines are capturing the growing housing crisis all across the United States, but California, “the Golden State,” is feeling the full effects by having 21 of the top 30 highest cost housing markets.

The lack of affordable housing is creating a dire situation in which in 2017 alone there are more than 118,142 homeless individuals, the highest in the country. At this rate, how can California call itself the “Golden State” when all it is doing is creating financial burden and removing a basic human need. The Legislature is finally taking action and last week passed a landmark affordable housing package two important measures, Senate bills 2 and 3, which will raise billions and increase housing affordability for the most vulnerable populations which are seniors, homeless, veterans, people with disabilities, children and families. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign both Senate bills 2 and 3 but there needs to be more done on his part to raise awareness and work toward getting Senate Bill 3, the $4 billion housing bond, come to fruition on the November 2018 ballot.

Sadly enough, the lack of affordable housing in California is not new but is one that is rapidly spiraling out of control and needs immediate attention. According to Housing California, an advocacy organization, the housing crisis is “affecting more than 1.7 million rent-burdened California households.”

While California may seem like a desirable place to live, from favorable weather and theme parks to the diversity of cultures, many in this state struggle every day to remain in their homes. The sunny California days are not felt when a family has to choose between putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their head.

As a senior career advisor, I have coached many job seekers, unemployed/underemployed, who have time and time again expressed the fear of losing their homes through evictions. Many are living in an overcrowded apartment or looking to move to another state, which some have because of the high costs. With the California minimum wage at $10.50 per hour, some cities have fought to further increase the minimum wage as they begin to realize that it is not sufficient to cover high rents. As rent continues to skyrocket, more than half a worker’s income will go to housing costs with more than 45 percent of households being renters.

Marlyn Garcia, who resides in the Bay Area, is currently unemployed in one of the highest cost of living areas and while she struggles to find employment, her husband is working two jobs to be able to afford their two-bedroom apartment, which is at $3,500 a month, and increasing every year. Marlyn said as she cried, “my husband works two jobs, my kids and I barely see him as he goes from one job to another, but what else can we do? We need to keep our home. My children need a place to call home.” She is just one of the many voices that have echoed within my office walls and remain with me.

Despite California finally recognizing that there is a housing crisis, there is still strong opposition to additional spending, specifically from opposing Republicans. The housing epidemic should be a bipartisan topic; one that mutual parties will continue to fight for even after the Senate bills are signed.

Investing in affordable housing will create stronger, healthier and more vibrant communities positively affecting other issues in California. Senate bills 2 and 3 will provide a strong foundation in addressing many of the housing concerns and with Gov. Brown’s hopeful and immediate approval, affordable housing can soon begin to rebuild. The governor needs to let Californians know that he will stand with vulnerable low-income populations and provide access to affordable housing, not just by approving the pending bills, but by continuing to support its residents through collaboration with advocacy groups.

Let us keep true to our nickname of the “Golden State” and provide affordable and safe housing opportunities for all California residents that work hard to remain in a state they call home.

Esmeralda Quintero is a senior career advisor for NOVA Job Center in San Mateo. She lives in Burlingame and is a graduate student in the online Master of Social Work program at the University of Southern California. She strives to enhance the well-being of communities by bringing awareness to solutions and resources available.

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(8) comments

jack bauer

Jbennett, I'm curious about your comment that "average people cannot" move out of area. Personally, I know of many folks of average means who have relocated.

Seasoned Observer

Esmeralda: While I agree that we have a housing problem I am disappointed that you didn't mention the problem driving this problem - excessive commercial development. City Councils around the Bay Area continue to rezone property for more intensive uses yet few "activists" care to address this. Focusing solely on the supply of housing and not on the demand for housing is one of the reasons this problem will not be resolved anytime soon.

jbennett

I was born in Palo Alto and raised in San Mateo and if my family had to deal with these astronomical rent increases we would simply move out of the area! Fortunately we have a home and do not have to face this but even we are now thinking it's no longer worth living here! The crime, the gridlock, the arrogant drivers and people are making us thinkithat life somewhere else would be much much better.

jack bauer

I totally understand what you're saying, jbennett. Add to the unpleasant mix you describe are the tens of thousands of illegals living here (San Mateo County) and you've got quit a mess. Now that CA is on the verge of becoming the biggest magnet for illegal aliens in the world, things will get only worse. There are many other beautiful places in the USA you might want to check out, or you can place your faith in multi-millionaires Speier and Feinstein to come to the rescue! Lol!

jbennett

There is a limit to everything in life. Eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, yada yada...and with that there is also a limit to how many people the land we call "The Peninsula" can handle. Multi millionaires have the freedom to move anywhere they want too. Average folks do not!

J A

Racist much? You seem to have an unhealthy obsession with immigrants. But tell me one time an undocumented immigrant has directly and substantially affected your quality of life for the worse here in San Mateo.

Christopher Conway

Sad that those who advocate for affordable housing only come up with solutions that either tax us more or want to seize our real estate for the community good. Its not the responsibility of those of us who already have high housing costs to support those who can't afford the high housing costs in our area. The fact that you can't afford something should tell you that you can't afford it. Don't look to others in your community to change that fact.

jack bauer

Ridiculous. Saddling the state with billions of dollars of more debt is not a solution for anything, except ruin. California is one of 50 states. Millions of Californians have already moved out of state to a place which provides a better standard of living. Why don't you? Instead adding crushing debt upon our kids/grandkids in a futile attempt to make CA "affordable," try exercising some initiative!

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