A lot of people have no idea what “affordable housing” means. The way the public, including politicians and journalists, uses the term “affordable housing” is as a blank canvas for imagining whatever housing they’d like, rather than what it actually means: subsidized, rent regulated, usually awarded, housing. Common articles
Darrell, this is a perfect explainer! I stopped using the term "affordable housing" about a year ago, and started explaining to people that "affordable housing" means deed-restricted, income-qualified, government-subsidized apartments, not a place that your 30-year old kid could afford to rent. Now I will send them your article. Actually, I won't. I recently moved to pro-housing Santa Rosa after 40 years in Santa Monica. I was partly motivated to leave because I was so tired of explaining this to my friends, neighbors, and even the clerks at the grocery store on a site that is slated for a large mixed-use project. "At least you may be able to rent an apartment in this new building; your union-scale paycheck is too high to qualify you for most affordable housing projects, and an affordable housing project will have to select tenants from a national lottery, not from the neighborhood workforce." GRRRRR.
Great article, as usual. One candidate for the absolute floor on per-bed costs in coastal California is the proposed Munger Hall at UCSB. According to Wikipedia, it's supposed to cost $1.4 billion and house 4,500 people, which is a per-bed cost of around $310,000. This is for a building where 90% of the rooms won't have windows, which would not be considered habitable under any zoning code I've ever heard of. So if that's the cheapest we could *possibly* build, it shouldn't surprise anyone that a humane living space with a window and a toilet is going to cost quite a bit more.
Great article! One thing I wondered about that wasn't covered in the article is supply and demand, which can be another reason that new housing costs so much, in addition to construction costs. In an acute shortage, rents and housing prices can be significantly higher than what's needed to cover costs plus a modest profit. That's also why lots of old housing in the bay area costs so much.