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California Cries Over Housing Crisis

June 7, 2002

Bay Area Realtors' Housing Summit To Seek Solutions, Overall State's Affordability At 27%

Inman News Features

Home values continue to escalate in California and reached new highs in April and May. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the April median sales price reached $529,940, an increase of more than 9 percent in a year, according to the Bay East Association of Realtors.

Many local area cities saw double-digit inflation for both condominium and single-family residences during the same period, according to Bay East.

"Having a job no longer guarantees anyone a decent place to live," said Donna Smith, president of Bay East. "With almost 80 percent of Bay Area residents unable to afford a home, the problem has reached epidemic levels. It?s going to take new and radical approaches to solve this crisis."

The leadership of more than 22 Realtor associations from Monterey to Sacramento plan to meet and address the affordable housing issue June 19 at The Bay Area Housing Affordability Summit, a housing symposium sponsored by Bay East.

The president of the National Association of Realtors, the officers of the California Association of Realtors and more than 80 Realtor presidents, executive officers and government affairs directors are expected to attend the summit and seek solutions to the growing affordability gap, according to Bay East.

Other attendees include local city officials, non-profit housing advocates, building industry leadership and state housing officials.

Historically the term ?affordable housing? has been linked to the low-income sectors, but the affordability gap is far less discriminating, according to Bay East. The term now includes first-time buyers, single parents, seniors, the disabled, renters and even dual income families in low and median income ranges. Event sponsors hope that by identifying the areas of challenge that are common to all, the broad coalition of housing interests can create a centralized housing resource network that will be available to all of those in need.

The summit also will tackle the barriers that hinder the adequate supply of housing, including existing stigmas about affordable housing, local regulations and legislation that limit the development of affordable homes for purchase and rental, limited financing programs and the lack of any centralized housing database.

"By uniting Realtors, community advocates, lenders and state and local decision makers, we hope to walk away from the Housing Affordability Summit with the ideas, commitments and resources to bring about immediate change," said Smith.

Overall, the percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home decreased by seven percentage points in April compared to a year ago, according to the California Association of Realtors.

The April housing affordability index stood at 27 percent, down from 34 percent in April last year, according to C.A.R. The April index decreased two percentage points from March, when it was 29 percent.

"With the median price of a home jumping nearly 30 percent in April to $321,950 compared to a year ago, it's no surprise that affordability posted a dramatic decline," said C.A.R. President Robert Bailey. "Low mortgage interest rates, which averaged 6.95 percent in April, aren't enough to offset the increase in the cost of a single-family home in California."

Copyright: Inman News Service

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