Members of the Building Industry Association got together with government leaders at the Housing Policy Conference to discuss the obstacles they are facing to building affordable housing.
Many in the group acknowledge the lack of affordable housing has significant consequences across the economic spectrum, but hits the lower income residents especially hard. The used the crowding rate to highlight the problem low income people have in finding housing. Local crowding rates: San Bernardino 8.9%, Los Angeles 12.1%. Orange County 9.3% and Riverside County 7.4%.
Being builders, a lot of the focus had to do with regulations. They complained about the misuse of environmental regulations to stymie development, often by NIMBYs. The regulation process can be too slow and add additional costs to projects even after approval. Builders are also facing a shortage of qualified workers, one of the linger effects of the bursting of the housing bubble.
One practical suggestion the builders had was to raise FHA limits, currently set at $425,000-$427,000. With labor, material and compliance costs rising, builders in Southern California can it hard to build projects within these price points. There are a lot of potential projects with price points just above this level, which means a lot of low income people are shut out of financing.
Other suggestions included prioritizing remedies to permitting and other obstacles to building workforce housing. They also want to quantify the over all economic impact of adding costs to development.