Rising living costs are outpacing wage increases. According to a study prepared for California’s 2017 Economic Summit, “Housing, electricity, and fuel costs are making it hard for California families to make ends meet. Rising rents and home prices aren’t limited to coastal areas.” The study further explains that, “low-income families are cost-burdened by housing in nearly every county and that “Nearly half of California households struggle to buy or rent a home in their community.”
My spouse and I recently decided to invite my mother to move in with us, combining our finances in order to bring down the cost of living for our entire family. As housing costs have continued to go up, many local people have looked to combining households in order to economise. Others have been forced to downsize or move.
For one married couple, both young professionals living in Nevada County, a severe spike in rent forced relocation. Liam and Vanessa moved from Nevada City to Grass Valley after their landlord informed them about a large rent increase following a request for plumbing repairs and resulting floor damage. Because Liam is disabled, proximity to public transportation was a must, further limiting their housing choices. After several applications and passes, the couple used their networks to find a unit that would become vacant in six months. They waited for more than half a year for their new apartment.
As home prices and rents rise, housing supply-shortages are quickly becoming one of the most pressing problems in all communities throughout California.
Nearby cities such as San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Sacramento face record and increasing housing costs. More and more people are literally heading for the hills to seek economic refuge and affordable housing. Other rural counties in California, such as Merced and Kern, are seeing exponential population growth as the housing in coastal cities becomes more and more unaffordable. Nevada County is likely to see further population growth from current trends in urban migration.
Meanwhile, Nevada County is already facing its own housing shortages and rapidly increasing rent.
Our housing plans for Nevada County need to be well thought out and consider long-term impacts. We cannot sacrifice the future for short-term gain by appealing to singular demographics. Community housing plans should be inclusive of people from different age groups, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and current means. We need workforce housing as well as appropriate housing for the aging. We need entry-level housing and thoughtful growth that creates sustainable communities.