The housing crisis wreaking havoc across California is rearing its ugly head here in Elk Grove. Early on Sunday, about a dozen or so residents met at City Hall to hear Councilwoman Stephanie Nguyen and Housing and Public Service Manager Sarah Bontrager address concerns about affordable housing in District 4. After a brief presentation, Nguyen and Bontrager took questions and comments from District 4 community members.
The Gardens at Quail Run, an affordable housing project planned at the southwest corner of Quail Run Lane and Bruceville Road, seemed to pique the interest of several community members. Residents also questioned whether Elk Grove’s affordable housing stock concentrated in District 4. Additional topics for discussion included:
- What does low income mean?
- Who is low-income?
- How affordable is Elk Grove?
- What is causing increasing unaffordability?
What Does Low Income Mean and Who is Low Income?
The State of California and The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determine the meaning of low income and housing affordability. Currently, a family of 4 earning less than $25,750 is extremely low income. Normally, these include food service workers, retail clerks, manicurists, and home care aides. A family of 4 earning less than $41,800 is very low income, and a family of 4 earning less than $66,900 is low income. Typically, these include pre-school teachers, bank tellers, security guards, mail carriers, EMT/paramedics, and maintenance, among others.
How Affordable is Elk Grove And What Is Causing Increasing Unaffordability?
In short, not very affordable, either for low-income homebuyers or low-income renters, according to Bontrager’s presentation. The typical rent in Elk Grove is $1700. Bontrager pointed to a strong demand for housing, rising building costs, a labor shortage, and home size as causes for rising unaffordability. A recent Bloomberg News report also cited outdated zoning laws and tax provisions originally created to enforce racial segregation as causes for the current affordability and homeless crises.
The typical price for a home in California is $600,000, more than twice the national average, according to the California Association of Realtors. California is home to 12% of the national population, but 25% of the nation’s homeless.
Common Misconceptions About Affordable Housing
In addition, both Bontrager and Nguyen addressed several myths about affordable housing developments. Among them, the myth that people who live in low income or affordable housing don’t work. This is false, according to Bontrager. Adult residents of affordable housing usually are employed.
Asked if more affordable housing in District 4 was good or bad, Nguyen said, “More affordable housing is not good if its all in one district because it keeps it all contained in one area. Affordable housing should be spread all across our city, not just in one area.”