Improving housing affordability in California: a criteria-alternatives matrix analysis

Thesis (M.P.P.A., Public Policy and Administration)--California State University, Sacramento, 2019.

Housing affordability is one of the top issues the state is currently trying to address because there are too many very low and low-income households who spend more than half of their income on housing costs. One-third of California’s residents spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs (Governor’s Budget Summary, 2018). Having a home is a significant part of our daily lives because it is a place where people unwind, raise families, celebrate special moments, heal, and foster a sense of belonging and security, which is critical for family and community development (Gieseking, Mangold, Katz, & Saegert, 2014). The purpose of this thesis is to inform the lawmakers, government officials working in the housing development and community-planning fields, the state legislature, and local governments about plausible public policy alternatives to mitigate the ongoing housing shortage in California. I specifically focus on proposing alternatives that will aim to lower rents for very low and low-income households who spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. The central theme of this thesis emphasizes the notion that housing affordability is a significant public policy problem because as the housing costs rise, people experience higher levels of the financial burdens that result in long-term economic instabilities and socially inequitable outcomes. To perform the analysis of the public policy alternatives, I used Bardach’s (2012) Eight-Step Path of Policy Analysis and Munger’s Criteria Alternatives Matrix (CAM) analysis. The CAM analysis is a way of producing a quantifiable and comparative analysis of the presented public policy alternatives by using set criteria. As Munger (2000) suggests, it is a useful tool that categorizes different alternatives based on their relative importance to address the problem and presents trade-offs between the alternatives. While the CAM analysis does not always yield the best solution, it does provide a consistent measure of alternatives based on the defined criteria and its importance. Every fiscal year, the state legislators try to address the exacerbated housing costs, but somehow always fall short of providing the necessary government intervention to improve the current housing market. Based on the CAM analysis results, I conclude that creating a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program can be an adequate start for beginning to address the long-term problem of Not-In-My-Back-Yard opposition. However, as I previously mentioned, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why my final recommendation consists of implementing a combination of alternatives 2, expanding California’s current density program from 35 percent to 50 percent, and alternative 3, creating a CDBG program to encourage communities to accept more affordable housing projects in exchange for community block development grants that would specifically address communities’ needs such as building more parks, creating more sidewalks, or reducing traffic congestion.