In Summary

CalMatters housing and data reporter Matt Levin and the Los Angeles' Times Liam Dillon discuss what can and can't be fixed about building affordable housing in California.

Please subscribe to the Gimme Shelter podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloud, Google Play, Spotify or Overcast.

California faces a shortfall of roughly 1.3 million housing units for its lower-income residents. That’s a massive gap to fill even if it was cheap and easy to construct new housing in California.

But low-income housing subsidized by public dollars is especially pricey to build in many parts of the state. How pricey? Well, in the case of the Pearl, a small apartment complex a developer hoped to build in Southern California, each unit would cost $1.1 million to build.

“People have some idea that building affordable housing has some basis in reality. It doesn’t,” said Ginger Hitzke, the Pearl’s developer who now says the project will almost certainly not be built because of the extravagant cost. “Take everything you know about real estate, anything you’ve learned, anything you really know, and now throw it out the window.”

While the Pearl’s pricetag may be exorbitant, the factors that inflated its cost are in many ways endemic: community opposition, lawsuits, parking requirements, limits on how densely developers can build, the rising cost of land, labor and raw materials. Meanwhile, experts predict the need for abundant affordable housing will soar as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, wreaks havoc with large swaths of the economy.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter”, CalMatters housing and data reporter Matt Levin and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon discuss what can and can’t be fixed about building affordable housing in California, and interview Hitzke about her experience.

More on the coronavirus in California:

Tracking coronavirus hospitalizations in California by county

CalMatters is tracking positive and suspected cases of COVID-19 in patients who are hospitalized throughout the state, broken down by county.

California’s response to coronavirus, explained

Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state appears to be flattening the curve. We unravel the response to the coronavirus outbreak and look at what lies ahead.

Timeline: California reacts to coronavirus

This timeline tracks how California state and local governments tackled the evolving COVID-19 crisis since the first case was detected.

Latest in Podcasts

Colorful residential row houses of San Francisco with a view of downtown San Francisco skyscrapers in the distance.

Podcasts

Podcast: Will California rethink housing density because of COVID-19?

In a press conference following the first COVID-19 death in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom condemns price gauging on necessary medical and safety items such as hand sanitizer. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Podcasts

Podcast: Coronavirus and the housing crisis

Podcasts

Podcast: ‘The Governator’ on housing, homelessness and Gold’s Gym

Podcasts

Podcast: Housing crisis? Presidential candidates have a plan for that

Moms 4 Housing members Sharena Thomas, left, Misty Cross, Dominique Walker and Tolani King look on during a press conference outside the house they have occupied on Magnolia Street in Oakland on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Photo by Ray Chavez, Bay Area News Group

Podcasts

Podcast: How activist homeless moms scored an Oakland win — and what’s next

Gov. Gavin Newsom presents the 2020-21 state budget at a press conference at the California Capitol on January 10, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Podcasts

Podcast: Will the latest changes to controversial housing bill get Newsom on board?