Californians were struggling to afford the high cost of housing before COVID-19’s fallout, and now that will only become more challenging.
By some measures more than half of the state’s residents are rent burdened, spending more than 30% of their household budget on rent. For decades, some leaders have made short-sighted policy choices that have contributed to a severe housing shortage. This drives up prices far higher than wages can keep up with.
High housing costs severely impact workers living on low incomes. Californians must earn $38.54 an hour to afford the median rent — far above the typical wages for workers who are the backbone of our economy: farmworkers, nursing assistants, janitors, retail and hospitality workers, and more.
Now, California’s prosperity is at risk. Every day, workers are forced to choose between paying for food, healthcare, and education in order to cover rent – and many are one rent increase away from homelessness.
Addressing these challenges could increase the economic power of millions of workers, so Irvine is exploring if our grantmaking approach can address housing affordability. We have invested $6.2 million to date and will make a small number of additional grants in 2020 to learn about the complex issues surrounding housing affordability while supporting key work happening now. We’re focused on three key areas:
Listening is a key value at Irvine, and we will use input from grantees, policymakers, and leaders in the community to decide if this housing exploration becomes an initiative in 2021.
A two-month grant of $10,000 to support the 40th Annual NPH Affordable Housing Conference
A three-month grant of $10,000 to support SCANPH's Annual Nonprofit Housing Conference
We are in conversations with grantees, working people, and leaders across the state learning about the challenges and opportunities facing Californians today. Again and again Californians’ single-largest expense came up: housing.Read the Story