By TODD GLORIA
Homeownership is the essence of the American Dream for many. It is the reward for years of hard work and responsible financial decisions. It means that you have made it. But what happens when you have worked hard, done everything right and yet still cannot afford to buy a home? The enormous demand for an extraordinarily scarce supply of homes, unfortunately, means that this is the reality for too many San Diegans.
The lack of homes built for middle- and working-class San Diegans is particularly acute. In the last decade our city has produced just 37 new homes for families earning between 80% and 150% of the area median income. This is why so many find that they do not earn enough to afford the market rate homes and earn too much to qualify for existing housing assistance programs.
A clean and safe place to live is foundational. Studies have shown that stable housing is helpful to students’ academic success. It boosts physical and mental health. When reasonably priced, it allows families to save for emergencies and for the future. A home is often an individual’s most valuable asset and the basis for generational wealth. In short, housing is everything. This is why we must take every reasonable step to build more homes for all of us. I have launched three initiatives to do just that.
My “Homes for All of Us” (bit.ly/2Y6egiD) housing package seeks to place a roof over every head at a price you can afford. The ten proposals (bit.ly/3meaz2F) in this package include various incentives to build more entry-level housing, housing for families, seniors, and people with disabilities. It concentrates new homes in transit priority areas, on underutilized commercial sites, and on City-owned lands. It prioritizes equity, limits displacement, and expects all neighborhoods to provide affordable housing solutions.
I have also proposed Blueprint San Diego (sandiego.gov/blueprint-sd) to help tackle our housing crisis. This planning tool is intended to marry our housing efforts with our climate action and sustainability efforts. It would speed up community planning efforts and include the public spaces and infrastructure needed to ensure new homes integrate well into existing neighborhoods.
Finally, I have created the Middle-Income Housing Working Group (bit.ly/3A16zHx) to tackle the extreme lack of housing that is affordable and available to our local middle and working class. This group of 23 San Diegans from a variety of backgrounds and professions will work for the next two months to prepare policy and financing recommendations for the City’s consideration and swift action.
I hope you will visit the City of San Diego’s website to learn more about these initiatives. I welcome your feedback and my team is hosting multiple public workshops to collect public input. Together I believe we can make space for everyone who wants to work hard and contribute to building a vibrant future for San Diego.
— Todd Gloria is mayor of San Diego.