How to Treat Housing as a Human Right

SPUR's housing report, "What Will it Really Take to Create an Affordable Bay Area," found that it will take 2.2 million units in the next 50 years to avoid worsening housing inequality.

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June 24, 2020, 11:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Housing Construction

Alan Levine / Flickr

The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) believes that housing is a fundamental human right. To supply housing that matches the rate of growth and support the needs of tenants and homeowners in California, housing needs to be produced constantly and efficiently. "In order to achieve this goal, we will need to build housing all the time, just as we build other critical infrastructure — that is, according to need and regardless of where we are in the economic cycle. Under our existing system, housing, particularly market-rate housing, requires rising rents (or falling construction costs) in order to be financially feasible," writes SPUR senior advisor Sarah Karlinsky. 

Karlinsky continues, listing benefits of "smoothing out the housing delivery system"—the efficient use of public resources when constructing during an economic downturn, preventing job loss through the demand of construction labor, and the ability of new housing construction to aid the recovering economy. Suggesting six policy changes to address the current lack of housing, Karlinsky asserts that while addressing the housing crisis during a global pandemic and recession is difficult, it's the time to change policy to make housing affordable for everyone.

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