California already faced a shortage of more than 1 million homes for low-income families before the novel coronavirus hit. And now many advocates, economists and politicians say the pandemic is only going to make the situation worse.
Major job losses, particularly in low-wage restaurant and hospitality sectors, and what will probably be severely depressed tax revenues for California and its cities, could create an even greater need for affordable housing at a time when government has less money available to help finance it.
“There’s all these households that are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their rent,” said Carolina Reid, faculty research advisor at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. “Well, now that paycheck is gone. And there’s no prospect for when that paycheck is coming back.”
On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all 40 million Californians to stay at home — with limited exemptions for crucial businesses, such as grocery stores — to slow the spread of the coronavirus. While many people are now working from home, that option isn’t available to restaurant and hospitality workers, who have lost jobs and seen their hours cut as food service is limited to grocery stores, and takeout and delivery services.
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