The IJ published an article on Sept. 23, titled “Massive housing bond previewed: Statewide bond could raise $20 billion if approved by voters.”
The article discloses that Marin County would receive $352 million to $704 million from the bond issuance. It also indicates that Marin County development’s cost per unit is $900,000. Thus, Marin County’s bond proceeds would finance the development of 391 to 782 units. Meanwhile, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has mandated that Marin County develop 14,000 homes by 2031.
Spending up to $704 million to achieve only 5% of HCD’s housing development mandate is a lot of money. That is especially true when you consider that Marin County’s population is projected to decline over the same period.
In California, and Marin in particular, we do not have a supply-housing crisis. We do not need more housing units. Adding more housing units will not reduce housing costs. Sharon Rushton explained really well why that is the case in her post earlier this year Housing density vs, housing cost.
Instead, we have a well-known housing affordability crisis. Solving for housing affordability is really challenging. Bob Silvestri covered the magnitude of this challenge in his excellent post The Real Affordability Crisis. This is not a unique problem to California. As the table below discloses, many areas in the World have house prices that are as unaffordable as the ones in the Bay Area.
Instead of increasing housing units in a State that is facing a long-term stagnation in population, Sacramento should consider expanding renter-voucher programs by offering rent credits or subsidies to qualifying low-income renters. This would achieve a lot more at a lot lower cost than mandating staggering increases in housing units that would trigger a rental housing bubble.