Many attempts have been made, and are still being made, to help lower income people to acquire affordable housing. We haven’t been worried about higher-income housing; those who can even consider affording it don’t particularly need the help. But there’s a group we’ve mostly been forgetting about: the dwindling middle class. The income gap has increased dramatically, but there are still those few who earn too much to get subsidies, yet too little to afford higher priced housing.
To this end, California lawmakers have passed AB 725, which modifies California zoning laws to allow for more moderate-density housing in metropolitan and suburban areas. 25% of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation must be for moderate income housing zoned for 4 or more units. Interestingly, a further 25% must be for above-moderate income housing, also zoned for 4 or more units. This is potentially because there could be significant backlash from a major drop in home values in areas that are already primarily high income neighborhoods.
AB 725 definitely has its flaws, though. Of course, it does little to nothing to further affordable housing, only increasing the density of housing, but that wasn’t the objective. The more pressing issue is that there are no provisions to improve infrastructure for higher densities, fund new constructions, or guarantee that new constructions will qualify for the required income range. Essentially, California lawmakers are saying “You better do this,” without providing any assistance in making it feasible.