An aerial view of homes under construction at a housing development  in Petaluma, California. According to a report by the U.S.  Commerce Department, new home sales surged 17 percent higher in November with a seasonally adjusted annual 657,000 rate.

An aerial view of homes under construction at a housing development in Petaluma, California. According to a report by the U.S. Commerce Department, new home sales surged 17 percent higher in November with a seasonally adjusted annual 657,000 rate.

In November 2016, Stanford University said it planned to expand its campus — a banal enough announcement for one of the world’s top universities.

The university wanted to add “2.275 million square feet of academic facilities, 40,000 square feet of transportation and child care facilities, 2,600 beds for students and 550 housing units for faculty and staff,” over the next 20 years, according to The Mercury News.

But the proposal garnered criticism from Santa Clara County, where the university is located, because county officials said Stanford hadn’t adequately addressed existing affordable housing issues. In February 2019, the median price of a home in Palo Alto was an eye-popping $2.9 million.

The university and the county have continued to negotiate over Stanford’s proposed development.

And now, Stanford has offered to chip in $4.7 billion to mitigate issues around housing and transportation, with $3.4 billion allocated for the former.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Stanford on Monday said its $3.4 billion investment will include 2,172 [housing] units for its workforce, 575 of which would be offered below-market-rate. County authorities want the university, which has a $26.5 billion endowment, to build far more than this.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Facebook, Wells Fargo, Kaiser Permanente and Google have also pledged to invest in affordable housing efforts.

But are these moves by private companies enough to meaningfully address the housing shortage?

Furthermore, what’s happening in California might be striking, but the lack of affordable housing is an issue across the country.

From Curbed:

Nearly two-thirds of renters nationwide say they can’t afford to buy a home, and saving for that down payment isn’t going to get easier anytime soon: Home prices are rising at twice the rate of wage growth. According to research from the advocacy group Home1, 11 million Americans (roughly the population of New York City and Chicago combined) spend more than half their paycheck on rent. Harvard researchers found that in 2016, nearly half of renters were cost-burdened (defined as spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent), compared with 20 percent in 1960.

We talk about the politics and policy behind the affordable housing crisis.

Produced by Haili Blassingame.

Guests

  • Corianne Scally Principal research associate, the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute; @CorianneScally
  • Joe Simitian Santa Clara County supervisor, representing the 5th District, which includes Palo Alto and Stanford; @joesimitian
  • Marisa Kendall Housing reporter for Bay Area News Group. @MarisaKendall
  • Joshua Bernstein Board member of the Washington Housing Conservancy, co-founder of the Washington Housing Initiative, and CEO of Bernstein Management Corporation.

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