Panelists at the recent ULI Housing Opportunity 2019 conference said that while the data paint a bleak picture of America’s housing affordability, the spending priorities of California’s new governor may be a sign of positive policy changes at a more local level.
Retired Trammell Crow chief executive Ron Terwilliger set the tone for the conference during his opening remarks, quickly turning the focus to the escalating housing crisis.
“We’re going backwards in terms of affordable housing,” said Terwilliger, founder and chairman of the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing and a former chairman of ULI.
Panelists argued that the shortage of affordable housing—and efforts to remove obstacles to build more of it—represent the biggest opportunity for the industry in the coming years.
“I think this is a significant moment,” said Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. “We have an opportunity to question the assumptions of how we work.”
By all measures, supply is not keeping up with demand, said Ryan Davis, director of research for Witten Advisors. Housing starts still have not returned to modern average levels, he said. And the metrics of creating affordable housing are growing more challenging, with construction, land, and labor costs all rising in recent years, he said.