Real Estate Round-Up: F is for Fair Housing
Last updated 3/10/2021 at 3:04pm
For nearly as long as I’ve been writing my column, the topic of the shortage of affordable workforce housing has been a key issue in real estate. There are many programs that address affordable housing, so people at the lowest of income levels, or those on state subsidies can secure housing.
But affordable workforce housing is an even bigger problem within California. It doesn't matter which region a person lives in, the housing available close to employment is generally not affordable to that workforce. Creating housing is linked closely to the related topic of Fair Housing. Let me explain.
The Fair Housing act was passed in 1968. Its goal was to eliminate housing discrimination to any group of individuals based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or familial status. In 1975, the Age Discrimination Act was passed into law, adding that as an additional category of individuals that cannot be discriminated against. The law has been clear for over 50 years, yet various groups still struggle to achieve the basic component, that many of us take for granted, that of stable housing.
Another practice called “Redlining” was outlawed in The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The practice of redlining related to the carving out of certain geographic areas, specifically to preserve for a particular group of individuals, or to prevent a particular group of individuals from living in that area. Reverse redlining targets neighborhoods by selling products and services at higher prices than they are sold for in areas with greater competition which will, in turn, segregate certain groups simply by making it financially impossible to live in an area.
So where am I going with this? It breaks my heart to say it, but I believe all of this “no building” fury is unintentionally denying the rights of homeownership to many of the residents of San Diego County. It is cloaked in the existing problem of traffic congestion and the always present fear of wildfires.
If you consider the thousands of cars that drive in from either Riverside County or Mexico, so those people can work in San Diego County, it’s hard to understand how housing people closer to their jobs will create more traffic congestion. Even with many people being able to work from home, there are still many others who have returned to working on-site, so our highways and interstates continue to be congested.
Having homes closer to where people work, and along transit corridors like I-15, will actually decrease traffic congestion and SD County will collect taxes on those new residents, rather than having them simply use our roadways and take their income out of the area.
So how does this lack of building attitude relate to fair housing and redlining? In the broadest sense, much of the workforce is being denied housing close to their jobs because of the anti-building sentiment. They are being discriminated against by those who are wealthier, be it through income or ownership. Fair housing is a right for everyone. One group is working hard to keep another group out of their area by making it impossible for them to afford local housing. Redlining is illegal.
Currently all homeowners are able to enjoy the robust real estate marketplace and “cash-in” on some of the highest values in history, yet others are left to watch from the sidelines. As values of the current inventory of homes continue to increase, even with lower interest rates, more and more people are left out of the “American Dream.”
Fair Housing should be deliberate, not exclusive. Everyone should have the opportunity to build their personal wealth through real estate ownership. More housing, located along transit corridors, is the right approach. It doesn’t clog up our country roads. It doesn’t increase traffic in town. It simply provides an open door for all people who are currently standing on the sidelines to start their personal wealth building through real estate.
Kim Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or 760-415-9292 or at 130 N Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.