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Listen to the Workers, They Need Affordable Housing

by: Andrew Davey (atdleft)

Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 09:57:53 AM PDT

Cynthia Carranco, 16, must do her homework on the seats of dining room chairs because there is no other place to write in the three-bedroom house shared by nine people.

She knows her situation is not unique: A friend sleeps in a walk-in closet, and others also live in crowded conditions.

"Sometimes it's hard being a teenager and not having any privacy," said Carranco, an Anaheim High School student.

(From OC Register)

Cynthia Carranco was one of the speakers at last night's forum on affordable housing in Anaheim. She and the other speakers spoke of their dire need for affordable housing. Yes, there's the controversial push for affordable housing in the "Anaheim Resort" district. You know, the one where Disney is putting up an initiative to "save the resort district". However, there are other battles being fought here as well. Of the 8,700 new homes going up in Anaheim's Platinum Triangle "luxury urban high-rise" development, NONE of them will be available for the lower-income workers who already have jobs in the area. There's a dire need for affordable housing, but that need is just being ignored.

But you know what? It's not just Anaheim. It's the entire Southern California region that's facing this crisis of affordable housing. And what are they doing about it? Follow me after the flip for more...

Andrew Davey (atdleft) :: Listen to the Workers, They Need Affordable Housing
"My prayer is that you guys think of my daughter when you consider whether to put affordable housing in the Platinum Triangle or anywhere else in the city," said speaker Maria Mejia, who shares a mobile-home room with her husband and daughter.

Are we even thinking of Maria and her daughter? Are we thinking of Maria's neighbors at that mobile home park? Do we think of them when they clean our hotel rooms? Do we think of them when they pick up our trash at Disneyland? Do we think of them when clean our plates after we leave the restaurant?

We should. After all, it's getting harder to keep people filling these jobs, as they can't afford to live anywhere in the area. Heck, it's even getting difficult for employers to retain white-collar workers, as even they can't afford housing in such expensive places as Orange County! Just what are we thinking?

And are we even listening?

[Anaheim] Councilwoman Lorri Galloway was the sole City Council member to attend the forum, put on by Orange County Community Congregation Community Organization, a coalition of faith-based groups. [...]

The group asked Galloway to commit to supporting affordable housing as part of Platinum Triangle plans, which she agreed to do.

"It's not the big developers they should be listening to. They should be listening to you." Galloway said to the crowd.

We really should be listening to these workers. They are facing a huge financial burden. And as they suffer this burden, so does the entire economy in Southern California. Workers can't afford to live here, and they can't afford to shop here. And they can only afford to work here for so long, before that high cost of filling the gas tank finally catches up with them. And if companies start to lose their employees, they can no longer afford to do business here. If we can't listen to these workers, then we're not listening to the needs of the local economy.

But are we doing that? Anaheim so far is not.

Statistics were projected on the church hall wall, such as the city's approval about 11,000 homes for higher-income families, but just hundreds for low-income families since 1998.

Developers don't want affordable housing at the Platinum Triangle. Disney and the hotels don't want affordable housing in the "resort district" around Disneyland. So where the heck is affordable housing "permissible"? Where can the workers live? And how long can they keep working here so long as there's nowhere in the entire area where they can afford to live?

Why can't Disney and the hotels and the developers and the Chamber of Commerce types realize that affordable housing for their workers is in their long-term best economic interest? Just how long do they think they can retain their workers if the workers can't live anywhere? Just how long do they think they can can get away with avoiding these long-term crises?

The benefits of affordable housing in the area far outweigh the costs. Employers can keep their employees. Employees can keep shopping at local stores. The city can keep these workers as taxpaying residents. More money is kept in the local economy. Everyone really does benefit in the end.

It's too bad that this problem is playing out in Anaheim. But you know what? It's not just Anaheim. It's Santa Ana. It's Irvine. It's Los Angeles. It's Riverside and San Bernardino (yes, even parts of the Inland Empire are starting to lose their "affordable" edge!). Southern California desperately needs affordable housing. But so far, all our "elected officials and business leaders" want to do is talk about building more "luxury housing" in areas that are already over saturated with "luxury housing".

Well, guess what? We already have plenty of "luxury housing"! What we need is affordable housing for low and middle-class workers! When will we start listening to them, and to their needs?

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Not just SoCal (8.00 / 1)
It's all over the state, and really the nation. One of the silent side effects of the housing boom (that's now turning into a bust) is that people can't afford to live where they work. They travel further,

One of the obvious solutions, that likely won't come until gas gets to about $7/gallon, is that we need higher density in general. So, for one thing, gone are the days of the big yard and the bright green lawn.  Of course, that also has to do with water, but space should be a consideration as well.  Anaheim, Irvine, etc could fit thousands more people, but people are scurrying down to Mission Viejo and South County to chase the illusive American Dream. It's an American Dream that should be looked upon with fond rememberance, but nothing more.

Instead, we need to rely more on parks and get used to high-density housing. It's just going to be this way folks, either start planning now, or suffer the consequences of denial later.

I think?

We're going high-density in OC... (0.00 / 0)

We're actually starting to realize that. It's just that THE LOW TO MIDDLE-INCOME WORKERS WHO HAV JOBS HERE CAN'T AFFORD THE NEW HIGH-RISES!! Santa Ana has new luxury high-rise condos. Irvine has new luxury high-rise condos. Anaheim is getting new luxury high-rise condos. But again, how many people can afford all this luxury?

Yes, going urban is a good start. But what if these people still can't afford the "luxury urban lifestyle"? What if they're also shut out of the urban zones? That's the problem. Cities are now rushing to go "luxury urban" to lure the Newport Beach/Coto de Caza crowd to come to the city. But what about the regular folks who are alread tere, and need a home that they can afford?

Now don't get me wrong. It's good to lure rich people to spend their money in the city. And it's good to give them luxury condos for them to live in the city. But hey, we also need affordable housing for the workers already there. Why can't they have housing in the city?

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
High-rise doesn't have to mean luxury (8.00 / 1)
In SF, we have a supervisor, Chris Daly, who has created several compromises to get affordable units in the high-rises.  Daly has required several builders to include affordable units.

This is the real problem, we need local leaders who will demand affordable units to be built along with the high-profit luxury units.  Listen, those developers aren't doing anybody any favors. Rather, it's the localities that are letting them build out. They need to help be a part of the solution, not just hiking up the prices.

I know many of the super-rich who buy in these buildings will be shocked(!) to have to live with people who aren't multi-millionaires, but them's the breaks. But, if the OC is really super-concerned about not mixing the Rich with the under-class they can even build separate (poor folks) buildings as part of the construction project. It's rather distasteful, but that seems to be the way it's happening in many cities.

Either way, the BoS needs to do something, but I'm just guessing Darth Norby won't be standing up for the un-rich folks anytime soon.

I think?

[ Parent ]
It does when everyone's thinking short-term... (0.00 / 0)
I know the developers aren't doing us any favors. And so do you. Ultimately, it's in the best long-term economic interest of local government AND local businesses that low to middle income people stay in town (and keep all those tax dollars and spending mone in town). And of course, it's also in the best human interest that these people have a place to live, and that they don't have to emit so many greenhouse gases to get to work.

I'd prefer a way to integrate affordable housing into the greater community, just so that everyone's a part of the community. There are actually a good loal program here where the county partially subsidizes rents for lower income workers in apartment comunities that are open to everyone. This provides cheaper housing WITHOUT creating slums or ghettos to segregate poor people from everyone else. And of course, it's good when local governments pressure the developers to set aside some of their new condos for affordable housing. Now why can't we just have that included in the new developments?

Cheese louise, why can't our "leaders" actually lead with some long-term vision?

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
What's really needed (0.00 / 0)
Is a shift in thinking among city governments and residents. Orange County, like most postwar suburbs, was built on the idea that the detached single family home (SFH) was utopia and any density was evil, just evil, because it brought "the wrong kind of people into town" (read: people of color, the poor) and would thereby lower property values.

Orange County has been misplanned and choked by sprawl for 60 years, but there still are some areas that should see SFH replaced by townhomes and apartment/condo buildings of about 6-8 stories.

And yeah, to build these developments without ANY affordable housing at all is just wrong. Postwar public housing was forced to segregate the poor in separate developments, and forced to locate these in existing slums, and so not surprisingly these developments took on the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood. As cities like Seattle and Berkeley have found, sprinkling affordable housing amongst the entire city and its neighborhoods produces positive results.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
We're seeing that shift... (0.00 / 0)
And especially in the urban core of Central OC, where high-rises are sprouting up all over, from Anaheim to Irvine and EVERYWHERE inbetween. But again, the huge problem here is that THESE HIGH-RISES ARE ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD UPWARDS OF $500k+ just for a one-bedroom condo! High-rises are going up, but are also being offered at such a high cost.

Orange County is now maturing as an urban county, but our "elected leaders" and "business leaders" only want to allow the privileged to enjoy the "urban lifestyle". They don't mind if the poor minions have to commute their way in from the Inland Empire. They just have a "sophisticated urban vision" for OC.

And you know what? That's not necessarily a bad thing. Privileged executives SHOULD be welcomed back to the city. However, where does everyone else go? These developements SHOULD have affordable housing included. Yes, sprinkle it all over town (and not just create slums). Yes, keeps the workers living in town. It's good for the workers, good for the economy, and good for the community. : )

Had enough of the "red county" right-wing crazy-talk bulls***? Well, then come and visit us at The Liberal OC! Yes, there ARE liberals in The OC! : )

[ Parent ]
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