June 10, 2019
San Diego Business Journal
San Diego Union-Tribune

To the Editor:

A safe home. Nutritious food. Health care. Access to good schools. Reliable transportation. Which would you choose?

One in 6 U.S. families are forced to make this decision every day, often paying more than half of their income on rent or a mortgage. This is unacceptable.

In San Diego County, only 47 percent of residents own their home, in contrast to the national average of 69 percent. And 57 percent of the County’s renters in 2017 were burdened by their housing costs, meaning they spent 30 percent or more of their income on rent and utilities.

With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to build affordable housing in the San Diego region, and across the state of California. The astronomical cost of land is the biggest barrier to construction, and policies governing permitting, environmental impact, fees, and parking and density requirements increase cost and construction timelines. Moreover, there are 18 cities in San Diego County, with even more unincorporated areas making up the region. Each municipality has its own set of development regulations, which Habitat and other affordable housing developers must interpret and navigate to get projects to groundbreaking.

When the cost of home is any family’s future, that’s something none of us can afford. So, we’re joining Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country to launch the Cost of Home campaign. We’re committed to mobilizing our business partners, volunteers, supporters, and community members to find solutions and create policies that will increase access to affordable housing.

The national Cost of Home campaign goal is to improve housing affordability for 10 million people over the course of five years through policy and system changes at the local, state and federal levels. We’re helping to reach that goal in San Diego by building 30 affordable homes per year, and by supporting the San Diego Housing Federation’s proposed bond measure on the November, 2020 ballot that will generate $900 million to build 7,500 affordable homes for veterans, homeless families, elderly, and disabled residents in the City of San Diego. In addition to building much-needed housing, these local funds are even more important to secure because they make San Diego projects eligible for matching funds from the recently passed Propositions 1 and 2 for statewide affordable housing funding. The local bond already has the full support of several coalition partners, including the Chelsea Investment Corporation, Affirmed
Housing, Community HousingWorks, National CORE, San Diego Interfaith Housing, and Wakeland Housing and Development.

We must find solutions to increase the supply and preservation of affordable homes, and to ensure access to credit, equitable land use, and communities of opportunity.

Everyone deserves a safe, healthy home, no matter how much they earn. Join us in making the Cost of Home something we can all afford.

Lori Holt Pfeiler
San Diego Habitat for Humanity