News, Policies, & Trends Opinion

Should Landowners Pay For Homeless Housing?

By | Aug 16, 2016

vermontsmallThe odds of making money by owning real estate is much better than playing the lottery. Just ask any lucky homeowner on the Westside of Los Angeles, or anywhere within San Francisco’s city limits.

Sure, the real estate bubble popped during the Great Recession, but anyone who continued to hold their property saw their equities climb back up. And in many parts of California, equity has increased tremendously.

If you bought a median priced Southern California home seven years ago, you would have paid $247,000. This year, it is worth $430,000. You just earned $183,000. Lucky you.

If you are a renter, however, you are feeling the effects of increased property value since rental rates increase at a similar pace. Rent prices in California continue to grow higher than the national average. A typical one bedroom California apartment rents for $1,750 per month.

No wonder why more and more people are unable to afford even a studio apartment. No wonder why more and more people are ending up on our streets.

Cities throughout California are seeing more tents on the sidewalk, sleeping bags in their parks, and bodies of sleeping people sprawled inside of business vestibules. They are clear signs that visible homelessness is increasing at an alarming rate.

Under pressure from constituents who are frustrated with a perceived plight of their neighborhood quality of life, local and state elected officials have tried to convince California Governor Brown to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.

But with no success. Such a declaration could cost the state millions of dollars. The memory of a nearly bankrupt state continues to haunt the Governor.

So local officials are turning to other means of gathering revenue to fund housing for people who are homeless.

In Los Angeles County, elected leaders have considered, unsuccessfully to date, to tax millionaires, a county-wide sales tax, and even a special tax on marijuana sales as revenue sources.

In Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, County officials will place on their November ballet a tax on property owners in order to fund a $950 million housing bond.

The City of Los Angeles has a similar housing bond proposal that would raise $1.2 billion for housing.

Asking landowners to help pay for housing for the poorest of our poor just makes sense. For those of us lucky enough to afford to own a home, we should be willing to support housing for the low-income and homeless who certainly have no way of even paying for the average rent of a one-bedroom apartment.

In Santa Clara’s housing bond proposal, a tax on landowners would be $12.66 per year for $100,000 of assessed value. So, for a home valued at $500,000 a property owner would pay $63.30 per year.

Most people who own property should be willing to pay less than $100 per year to house thousands of people who are homeless in their communities.

I would be.