Guest essay by Eric Worrall
During the Nov 20th Democratic Candidate Debate, Tom Steyer promised if he is elected President, towns and municipalities like Los Angeles will be forced to build more eco-friendly affordable housing.
Mr Steyer, Millions of working Americans are finding housing that has become unaffordable, especially in metropolitan areas, it is particularly acute in your home state of California, in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Why are you the best person to fix this problem?
When you look at inequality in the United States of America, you have to start with housing. Where you put your head at night determines so many things about your life. It determines where your kids go to school, it determines the air you breathe, where you shop, how long it takes you to get to work.
What we’ve seen in California is as a result of policy. We have millions too few housing units and that effects everybody in California. It starts with a homeless crisis that goes all through the state, but it also includes skyrocketing rents that effect every single working person in the state of California.
I understand exactly what needs to be done here, which is we need to change policy and we need to apply the resources here to make sure that we build, literally. millions of new units. But the other thing that’s going to be true about building these units is, we’re going to have to build them in a way which that’s sustainable. In fact how we build units, where people live, has a dramatic impact on climate and on sustainability.
So, we’re gonna have to direct dollars, we’re gonna have to change policy and make sure that the localities and municipalities who have worked very hard to ensure that there are no new housing units built in their towns that they change that and we’re gonna have to force it. Then we’re gonna have to direct federal dollars to make sure that those units are affordable, so that working people can live in places and nobody is spending 50% of their income on rent.
Steyer didn’t say what would happen to town mayors and other municipal leaders who object to his policies.
I accept cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have serious housing affordability and availability issues, but forcing towns to obey a federal directive to build more houses regardless of local objections would likely be the end of urban green spaces.