Californians for Homeownership was founded in response to the California Legislature’s call for public interest organizations to fight local anti-housing policies on behalf of the millions of California residents who need access to more affordable housing. We work to address California’s housing access and affordability crisis though impact litigation and legal education.
California's Housing Crisis
For decades, California has experienced a housing access and affordability crisis. In recent years, this crisis has reached historic proportions. As a result of the housing affordability crisis, younger Californians are being denied the opportunities for housing security and homeownership that were afforded to previous generations. Families across economic strata are being forced to rent rather than experience the wealth-building benefits of homeownership. Many middle and lower income families devote more than half of their take-home pay to rent, leaving little money to pay for transportation, food, healthcare, and other necessities. Housing insecurity in California has also led to a mounting homelessness crisis.
As the California Legislature recently observed:
The consequences of failing to effectively and aggressively confront this crisis are hurting millions of Californians, robbing future generations of the chance to call California home, stifling economic opportunities for workers and businesses, worsening poverty and homelessness, and undermining the state’s environmental and climate objectives.
At the core of California’s affordable housing crisis is a failure to build enough housing to meet demand. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the state should have been building approximately 210,000 units a year in major metropolitan areas from 1980 to 2010. Instead, it has built approximately 120,000 units per year. In the five-year period from 2013 to 2017, despite a perceived “boom” in housing construction, California issued building permits for less than half as many units as it did in the period from 1985 to 1989. Today, California ranks 49th out of the 50 states in existing housing units per resident.
How We Help
Californians for Homeownership acts as a voice for the millions of Californians at all income levels who need increased access to housing they can afford—a voice that is systematically underrepresented in California’s system for making land use decisions. We represent this important voice in city halls and courtrooms across the state.
California’s housing crisis is statewide, but housing policy is set locally. And it is driven in large measure by local policies that favor the interests of local voters over regional and statewide housing needs. Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) and other local exclusionary housing policies are a major driver of the housing crisis. These policies are used across California to delay, reject, and downsize housing development projects—especially projects that might increase access to affordable housing.
As the housing crisis has worsened, California has enacted increasingly stringent state laws designed to limit exclusionary housing policies and encourage housing development. These laws require California’s cities and counties to plan for the creation of enough housing to meet regional housing needs—and to stick to those plans. They also require localities to permit certain forms of housing development, such as the construction of “accessory dwelling units.” And they penalize cities and counties that fail to produce adequate housing. Learn more about California’s legislative efforts to create more housing.
These laws are meaningless without strong enforcement, and violations are widespread. California’s Department of Housing and Community Development and the other state agencies charged with enforcing housing laws lack the resources and authority to address every violation. That’s where we come in: we monitor compliance with laws that prohibit exclusionary land use practices—and, when necessary, we sue to enforce them. Learn more about our work.