UNITED STATES—California is one of America’s best states. It has a vibrant culture, scenic landscapes, celebrity sightings, and countless activities. And this is precisely why it is an attractive state for many and why people choose to move there. However, in recent years rent has skyrocketed to the point that it has left thousands of people feeling the pinch. Urban areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and even San Francisco have been the hardest hit. Let us unpack a few solutions to California’s high rental problem.
Arguably one of the most straightforward solutions, co-living is one option that has gained enormous popularity in recent years. This cost-effective solution is quite innovative and can solve the problem of high rents. There are several benefits here: people get together to rent rooms and share living spaces in co-living arrangements. It is usually in a large house built explicitly for this purpose. The benefit is that you get to split rental costs and day-to-day chores. If this works for you, contact an apartment rental agency like Tripalink. They list shared living spaces in specific areas all over California and beyond.
Rent control and tenant protection
Changing the law takes a long time, but it is often one of the best solutions since rules set changes in stone. One way to combat California’s high rental prices is through stringent rent control laws that protect tenants. The idea behind rent control is to limit or cap the percentage a landlord can raise their rent annually. For example, landlords can only increase rent by 5% per year when there is rent control. California is exploring new measures to mitigate high living costs and evictions; laws protecting tenants against unjust rent increases are vital.
Mixed housing developments
The state should take charge and encourage mixed housing developments, not just focus on high-end developments that benefit a select few. A key strategy here is to develop housing units that serve society. Local governments — as well as non-profit organizations — can also take the lead here. Initiatives like this make it easier for individuals to live among their peers while also being able to pay their rent. Furthermore, the state can encourage developers to portion a section of a development that caters specifically to those who need help paying high rental costs. In this way, the private developers can also benefit from the state for assisting in the crisis.
Housing voucher and rental assistance programs
While compiling our research, we found that the issue is not necessarily that people cannot afford rent; the increase in rental costs year on year is the issue. Many individuals start by being able to pay their rent, but huge annual rental increases have made rentals unaffordable for so many. The Section 8 Program is a wonderful initiative making rental vouchers available to individuals who cannot pay rent. So, how does it work? It is a voucher that subsidizes a certain portion of an individual’s rent, increasing their likelihood of paying their rent. Additionally, rental assistance programs work essentially the same way. Non-profit organizations usually manage them; applicants must prove they need financial assistance.
Accessory dwelling units
Have you heard of a granny flat before? Well, that is an accessory dwelling unit. They are separate sections, often a small flatlet, located on a larger property but not attached to the house. In many parts of the world, such as South Africa and Australia, these are ideal options for people since they are often offered well below the usual rental amounts. The same premise and practice could work well in California.
We understand that companies are not responsible for their staff’s housing. It would simply not be viable in many instances. However, in some parts of the world — especially if you work for a government institution — you receive a housing subsidy. Housing subsidies are beneficial if you want to own a home one day. This practice is another that could work well in California. Some businesses have recognized the need for affordable housing and have taken steps to address the problem their employees face. Collaborating between the government, the private sector, and developers could benefit all concerned. The idea is to provide workforce housing solutions which means if you work for X company and you earn between a certain amount and rent in a certain area, you pay well below the rental rate.
Since last year, people have been calling for policy reform. Often cited as the easiest way to assist renters, policy reform does not occur overnight, which is the problem. One way to move policy change forward could include actions such as permitting and development processes should be streamlined and fast-tracked, the government should remove as many bureaucratic obstacles as possible, and reform zoning regulations. Will we see this in the future? We do hope so.
While these options are available in California, people still feel too there is too little change. However, some politicians, such as Representative Maxine Waters of California, are fostering transformation. She proposes billions to assist those who need housing most. We hope for radical change and believe the rental, as well as the overall housing crises, can be solved.