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Industry Snapshot: Affordable Housing Construction Is Critical For California's Recovery

California's depressed construction industry only generated just 32,000 new housing units between 2010 and 2011, a fraction of the over 200,000 units that California once produced each year. New Census Bureau figures show construction falling far below growth in their latest report. The numbers of units under was less than a quarter of one-percent of 13.7 million total units even though our state's population was growing at least twice as fast.

Traditionally, housing construction has been a major factor in recovery from recession, but it hasn't been happening in California because the recession itself was rooted in the collapse of the housing industry. Overall, the nation added nearly 500,000 housing units during the one-year period which included a list of the nation's 100 fastest growing counties. No California county is on that list.

Housing advocates have addressed the concerns of a weakened construction industry through sponsorship and support of state legislation such as SB 1220, a dedicated source of funding for affordable homes, and preservation of affordable housing production funds from redevelopment agencies. Diverting auctions funds from cap and trade pollution permits could add additional resources to revitalize the construction of additional housing units.

Meanwhile, Southern California's Inland Empire's has the most foreclosure activity of any major metropolitan area in the United States according to Realtytrac. One in every 179 homes in San Bernardino and Riverside counties was at some point in the foreclosure process last month according to figures that were released today. The Inland Empire's foreclosure rate is about 20 percent higher than in April 2012.

The rate of high foreclosures coupled with a depressed housing construction industry is placing a huge burden on affordable home organizations. Legislation such as a dedicated source of funding for affordable homes and the potential for cap and trade funds being used for housing production are even more important in the coming year to lead the way towards economic recovery and the creation of jobs in California. Stay tuned.