January 31, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement from Kevin Zwick, CEO of United Way Bay Area, one of the area’s most respected and effective philanthropic organizations fighting poverty, on the importance of municipal housing element plans due to Sacramento on Jan. 31.
San Francisco, Calif., Jan. 31, 2023— Our housing justice advocates are eager to see cities and counties across California submit their formal plans to address our housing crisis to the state Department of Housing and Community Development ahead of the January 31 deadline. That we had to mandate action to ensure jurisdictions across the state are prioritizing building plans necessary to address the housing affordability issue shows how deep this problem runs.
I am hopeful that city leaders across the Bay Area will approve meaningful housing plans that meet or exceed state quotas, backed by innovative solutions and adequate public resources to make them happen. The housing affordability crisis is one of our own making, tied directly to the lack of housing capacity. With so few affordable units available, demand and prices continue to skyrocket. These housing elements must provide real plans for building and expansion, or they will be inadequate and the problem will only worsen. As of today, more than a quarter of jurisdictions statewide still have not submitted their housing element plans, or they have submitted elements that don’t comply with state law, but we are encouraged that so many leaders are taking this issue seriously.
The housing affordability crisis is the #1 issue that puts and keeps Bay Area families in poverty. Losing the roof over your head is devastating and destabilizing. According to our latest 2-1-1 Helpline data, calls for assistance to remain housed or find emergency shelter made up nearly half of the calls we received and spiked 20% from the same period in the previous year.
We can do better, and I’m hopeful that these state-mandated housing plans will work to create accountability and spur new building and increased housing capacity. My wish is that, from here on out, cities and counties will work with housing justice advocates and organizations to make necessary plans to house all people who call the Bay Area home. And in the meantime, we’ll call out NIMBY-ism from the community wherever we see it.