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California is homeless. What I mean when I say homeless is, “without homes.” California, for a long time now, has had an issue with providing homes for citizens to purchase, but in the event they do have a home for sale, it’s often too expensive. It was only recently, however, that the issue got so out of hand to the point where the state declared it, a state of emergency. At this level it is now the nations job to get the Californian housing market back on its feet. For this to be done the state will need funding from the government, workers who are willing to do the labor of building affordable homes, and to just build a larger quantity of homes.
The first step that would need to be taken for California’s recovery would be to acquire funding for the materials to build the homes. This funding would be acquired on a federal level.
How it works
This may potentially be done through a temporary nationwide tax, or a government grant. Due to the cost of building homes in California; It is more likely that a tax would be used. According to “Zillow,” the average price of a home in California is $546,100. The cost of homes is estimated to have gone up six percent in the last year, and is estimated to go up seven point seven percent in the coming year. This means the average will likely jump to $588,149.7 within one year. A website called, “DepartmentofNumbers.com” provides users with public data gathered from surveys and other public censuses. Based on the data provided on their website I have gathered that the average income of a californian household was, as of 2016, 67,739. If you do the math, the cost of an average home is roughly nine years of income rounded up from 8.6. Though, that’s if you were to spend every penny of your income on the house, and people do have to eat, and have running water, as well as several other amenities. Californians have an average annual expense of about $6664.12, so if we factor that in then it would take your average person, at best, around 10 years to pay off their home. Keep in mind that this situation is only if you were to pay exclusively for your necessary expenses, and never spent any of your surplus income. In layman’s terms, homes are far too expensive. For this reason the government needs to provide the state with funding for affordable homes so that not only will the homes be their, but their cost will be able to be regulated by the government. These homes however cannot build themselves, so there will need to be a workforce to construct them.
The homes being built would need some kind of workforce to build them. There are multiple solutions to this issue, the first of which would be for the government to pay for a private construction force. This is an effective solution, but private labor isn’t cheap, and when the, “average cost to build a new house comes in at $289,952,”(homeadvisor) they don’t want to be paying on top of that. Nor would it be cost effective to pay for that. Why would the government need to do that when they have a perfectly good workforce that is already paid to service the nation? Instead the National Guard could be trained, and utilized as a workforce to build these homes. According to Wikipedia, “There were more than 183,366 National Guard members”(wikipedia) as of 2005. A portion of these national guardsmen could be called upon to build these homes. The only issue with this solution is still the cost of building the homes, or to be specific, the cost of the materials used to build them.
This problem has a very boxy solution though. While the cost of land could be regulated by the government in a state of emergency, the cost of building materials is not within their control. A recent trend is the solution to a problem like this. An extremely low cost alternative to a traditional home that has been popular lately has been shipping container homes. These are small extremely cheap homes made of shipping containers that could be easily assembled with basic training, and a set of instructions. The shipping containers used for these homes are also very durable, so maintaining the homes isn’t an issue. Based off my research from various websites and blogs, specifically 24hplans.com, I found out that the average cost of one of these shipping container houses is as low as $15,000 with a labor cost of $10,000 to build one. This puts the cheapest shipping container home at 2.5% of the cost of the previously mentioned average in California. While it is a modest sized home, it is far less expensive, and cheaper to make.
The major root of the housing crisis in California is not due to the pricing of the homes, as this is a bi-product of the lack of homes. In essence it is simple supply and demand. The demand is there, but the supply does not go up. As a result of the wealthier people willing to pay more for homes, all the prices go up. If the market were to be saturated with new homes at a fast pace, the price would go down, and allow the market to work its way back down to a more reasonable average cost, for both homes, and apartments. Some people believe instead that, “One proposed fix is Proposition 10, billed as a local rent control initiative”(NPR.org).
This doesn’t solve any problems though, in fact, it may create more, and only make the problem worse. Elizabeth Bluhm, a builder of low income housing says that Prop 10 could make, “it very hard for developers to get things done efficiently”(Bluhm). She also said that, “It just adds to the cost of development”(Bluhm). Both an uncertain, potentially higher cost of building, and a longer build time are both things that will only fuel the flames of the housing crisis. Bluhm also agrees that the real solution to the problem is to just build more homes at a fast pace, saturating the market, and in tern, lowering the cost of the houses. This, combined with the action plan of using government funds and workers to construct easy to build, low cost, durable homes at a fast pace could give California the push they need to severely lessen, or maybe even end the housing crisis.
The Californian housing crisis doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon, and while some actions are being taken to lessen the struggle, such as Prop. 13, it doesn’t matter if they are the wrong efforts. With the average housing cost going up exponentially on an annual rate, and with California having a fourth of the nations homeless population, something needs to be done sooner rather than later. If the United States Government were to provide the funding, and the workers to build homes in California, and the state used that funding for low cost easy to build storage container homes, then costs would decrease, labor would be cheap, and overall cost of housing in general would be lowered due to the oversaturation of the market with affordable housing at such a rapid rate. This could then Kickstart the states engines to help pull it out of its slump. Of course this is all theoretical, but for now, California is truly homeless.
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