Everything you need to know about the affordable housing debate

Edited by Matthew Yglesias, author of The Rent is Too Damn High

Concise answers to questions like: Why is increasing supply so central to affordability? What is gentrification? What is filtering? What is exclusionary zoning?

California’s High Housing Costs: Causes and Consequences

Report by California Legislative Analyst's Office

Outlines the evidence for California’s housing shortage and discusses its major ramifications. Key findings:

  • California’s home prices and rents are higher than just about anywhere else
  • Building less housing than people demand drives high housing costs
  • High housing costs problematic for households and the state's economy
  • Recognize targeted role of affordable housing programs
  • More private housing construction in coastal urban areas

Perspectives on Helping Low-Income Californians Afford Housing

Report by California Legislative Analyst's Office

"In this follow up to California’s High Housing Costs, we offer additional evidence that facilitating more private housing development in the state’s coastal urban communities would help make housing more affordable for low-income Californians. Expanding affordable housing programs ... likely would be extremely challenging and prohibitively expensive. Encouraging additional private housing construction can help the many low–income Californians who do not receive assistance. Considerable evidence suggests that construction of market–rate housing reduces housing costs for low-income households and, consequently, helps to mitigate displacement in many cases."

SF Planning 101: How Community Input Affects The Building Process

"[E]very single building permit can be subject to discretionary review, which means that the Planning Commission ... has the power to turn down any building permit. ... This is different from most cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, where many permits are issued as-of-right, meaning that you can get them as long as you meet zoning and height restrictions. If you've ever had to slog through survey responses or a community meeting, you know that feedback is invaluable, but has its costs—one of which is time."