High Desert Leaders Blame State for Housing Crisis
The state of California is in the midst of a housing crisis and the High Desert is one of many regions facing several challenges in the industry.
The California Housing Future: Challenges And Opportunities report revealed overall homeownership rates in the state are at their lowest since the 1940s, with home construction declining by some 80,000 homes per year over the last decade.
Some of the housing challenges the report revealed include lack of supply and rising costs, which are compounding growing inequality and limiting advancement opportunities for younger Californians such as millennials.
The report sparked a response from Assembly Jay Obernolte who said in an email to his constituents, "California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. Solving the housing crisis will go a long way towards lowering the cost of living and reducing poverty. California has to get out of the way and let homebuilders build."
Without intervention much of the housing growth is expected to overlap significantly, with disadvantaged communities and areas with less job availability being hit the hardest, the report said.
Many local leaders agreed with the assessment, saying the lack of available homes and rental units, and lack of jobs, deepens the housing crisis in the High Desert. They also added the homeowner rate in the report is reflected by the growing number of renters and lack of available homes throughout the region.
Hesperia Councilman Russ Blewett said government regulation by the state puts a wrench in the wheels of development, claiming it takes less than 90 days to start construction in Texas compared to almost two years in California.
"The state sold out to labor unions and the environmental community," Blewett said. "They're the ones causing most of the problems."
Blewett said key factors behind a developer's decision to build are existing home sales, demand and local employment. California has recovered all jobs lost in the recession, but at lower wages.
High Desert Association of Realtors President Karen Sanchez said there are 980 homes currently available in the High Desert, about 1,000 short of having a balanced market. She also remarked that homeowners that are trying to sell their property are having trouble finding replacement homes for themselves, which is creating some stagnation.
"The California Association of Realtors' recent report stated that San Bernardino County has a 56 percent availability factor (when it comes to people who can afford to buy homes)," Sanchez said. "You know that number is higher in the High Desert because of affordability — we just don't have enough homes."
Coldwell Banker Commercial Victorville Vice President Bob Basen recently told the Daily Press affordable homes, a very limited inventory, building restrictions and no new development in the Victor Valley creates a supply and demand situation for available rentals.
High Desert communities are making a dent in solving the local housing market crisis, with home starts on the rise in one city since the recent recession.
Hesperia spokeswoman Rachel Molina told the Daily Press the number of single-family home permits in the current fiscal year is at 137, with Blewett expecting that number to exceed 200 by year's end. The city issued 85 permits in FY 2014-15 and 117 in 2015-16.
Housing builds in Victorville are also picking up, with a total of 116 new housing permits issued in 2016, an increase of 41 percent over 2015's total, according to City spokeswoman Sue Jones.
In Apple Valley, housing starts for the current fiscal year are at 76, with about four months remaining. Starts in fiscal years ending 2016 and 2015 were nearly identical at 109 and 108 respectively, according to Town spokeswoman Kathie Martin.