How the Pandemic Made Addressing California's Housing Shortage More Difficult

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PASADENA, CA - APRIL 23: A sign advertises the pending sale of a house on April 23, 2009 in Pasadena, California.  ((Photo by David McNew/Getty Images))

During the pandemic, California home buyers gobbled up single-family homes in exurbs and suburbs while low-income earners struggled to make rent. The median home price in California rose roughly 20 percent during the past year to about $700,000, according to the California Association of Realtors. At the same time, rents plummeted in many of the state’s biggest cities — especially in high-end luxury towers. But those drops do little to help millions of renters in California barely managing to keep roofs over their heads. Part of the problem is that, based on some estimates, California faces a shortage of roughly 3 million homes. We examine how these trends could make California’s long-time housing shortage worse and what policies are on the horizon to address the problem. 


Matt Schwartz, president and CEO, California Housing Partnership

Igor Popov, chief economist, Apartment List

Darrell Owens, policy and data analyst, California YIMBY; co-executive, East Bay for Everyone; commissioner, Berkeley Housing Advisory Commission