It All Comes Down to a Shortage of Housing.
Housing is key to economic development. A healthy housing market would have something for everyone in Chico. Housing for people making lower and middle incomes, housing for people with special needs and unique situations. Housing that meets market-demand.
This calls for a variety of housing types, built at costs that make it affordable to finance and construct.
Unfortunately for buyers, builders, and housing specialists, every one of the six components of housing is increasing: Land, Loans, Lumber, Labor, Legislation and Litigation. Every increase adds to the bottom-line cost to build, reducing the number and variety of units built.
Common sense (and bank financing) tells us the selling price must cover the bottom-line cost. Back in the day, when a house could be built for $150,000, it could sell for $160,000 and be attainable for middle income, first time homebuyers. Those days are gone. Worse, because there is not enough supply, those houses now sell for $298,000!
The Government Accountability Office reported it cost an average of $326,000 per unit to build government-subsidized multi-family housing unit in California.
It is what it is.
Today in Chico, we have to deal with the reality of what we have: the high cost to build, environmental concerns, market-driven demand, constrained land, Millennials starting families and a common vision of Chico as a desirable community.
As a community we need to encourage attainable housing and resist additional costs that add to the bottom line. It will require complex trade-offs between the market’s diverse goals and impacts.
Growth will happen, and people want what they want in housing. Our challenge is to figure out how build attainable market-driven housing in Chico, or watch it happen in the County and neighboring cities.