San Diego

New State Law Helps Middle Class Families Afford Homes

The new law aims to alleviate the severe lack of housing for middle-income families in California

Middle-income families in San Diego will soon have a better chance of owning a home thanks to a new state bill signed by the Governor last week.

AB 1637 aims to spur construction of middle-income housing, which could help alleviate the severe lack of housing for middle-income families in San Diego.

Assemblymember Todd Gloria authored the bill and calls the housing crisis his central preoccupation.

“I do not believe that the Golden State can be a great state if we’re not building housing for the middle class,” Gloria said. “The numbers show that we simply aren’t.”

It’s no secret there’s a lack of middle-income homes in San Diego. The shortage of supply is driving up prices and squeezing middle-income families out of the housing market.

“You either need to be paid substantially well to afford a down payment, or have help from family,” Dylan Anderson said.

Anderson and his family of four live in North County. He and his wife work full time in well-paying jobs. But because housing prices are so high, they’ve decided to rent instead of buy.

“My wife and I are very comfortable where we are but owning a home just isn’t something that is on the near horizon,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s sentiment is felt by many other families in San Diego who simply don’t see an incentive to buy at this time.

“We have long had a history of subsidizing housing for the very low income and formerly homeless but now what we want to do is incentivize for the middle class,” Gloria said. “For folks who will never qualify for taxpayer assistance housing but still need housing.”

The new state law has authorized the housing authorities of the city of San Diego to provide gap financing to middle-income housing.

The average price of a home in San Diego is more than $500,000, according to the city, and the average San Diegan pays more than $1,700 per month on rent. That amounts to roughly 30 percent of their income.

More than 70 percent of San Diegans can't afford to buy a house at the county's median home cost, said city officials.

“Ultimately where there was a prohibition against the city trying to construct units in this part of the market, that prohibition has been lifted and really allows the market to come in and fill this space,” Gloria said.

AB 1637 is a pilot program for the city of San Diego and Santa Clara County. If it is successful, the bill could expand statewide.

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