The Daily Breeze, which covers the South Bay and Harbor Area cities of California’s Los Angeles County, recently conducted a Q&A with Ben Metcalf '98, director of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, about the state’s affordable housing crunch, which new Governor Gavin Newsom has identified as a priority.
“It’s really complicated to solve California’s housing challenges. It’s a thicket of different regulatory issues and all intertwined with the things the government doesn’t really control that much, like the cost of materials and the shortage of construction labor,” said Metcalf, who was appointed by Governor Gerry Brown three years ago, following stints in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and with BRIDGE Housing Corporation, a nonprofit developer based in San Francisco. He said there’s hope.
“If you go back a few decades, to the ’50s and ’60s or ’70s, when our population was much smaller, we were building north of 200,000 homes a year, about double what we’ve been building the last couple of decades, so there is historic precedent for it,” he said. “You need to figure out how to untangle some of the policy decisions that have been created over the decades that make it harder to build. We need to continue to invest in housing through subsidies, but we also need to make it easier to build.”