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News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Teachers and firefighters can't afford housing -- Anderson Forecast says share their costs

by Julia Paskin | Take Two®

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A suburban tract home for sale in the predominantly Latino middle class enclave of north Downey, Calif., September 2010. The National Association of Realtors Monday says its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 percent to 101.7 in December. That's still 6.9 percent higher than it was a year ago. The decline signals that sales of previously occupied homes may drop in the coming months. There's generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

When it comes to desirable places to live, Southern California is pretty up there.  And so is the cost of housing. While a handful of housing bills in Sacramento wait to become law, researchers with the UCLA Anderson Forecast say they won't do much to address the immediate crisis. They propose a different strategy to alleviate the affordable housing problem.

Take Two's A Martinez spoke with Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the Anderson Forecast. 

"If we're not going to be able to provide affordable housing, what we need to do as a community is decide who gets affordable housing," Nickelsburg said. "One way is to say we would like teachers to live in the community where they teach. In order to do that, they have to be able to afford to live there. An alternative would be for the school district or the city or the county to go in partnership with those teachers. So, most people want to own their own homes. If you can't own a $600,000 home, maybe the school district can own $300,000 of that, and you, the school teacher, can own the other $300,000. And you do an equity sharing."

Nickelsburg says any job classification could be chosen for shared-cost housing, as long is it's important to the community. He understands why some people wouldn't want their tax dollars to help someone else own a home when they can't afford one themselves, but he says overall, it's the most cost-effective method. 

"You either do that or the alternative is that to get good teachers you're going to have to pay the teachers more anyway," Nickelsburg said. "So in fact, one would be paying either way. And this is a way to keep communities with a more broader socioeconomic complexion than simply having people priced out... or decide that maybe teaching or being a policeman or a fireman in Salt Lake City or Denver is just a better option than in California."

To hear the full conversation with Jerry Nickelsburg, click on the media player below. 

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