Hilton Unveils Policy Paper on Housing Affordability

Steve Hilton on the West Steps of the California State Capitol during his press conference on March 26 announcing the Achieving Universal Housing Affordability policy paper, photo credit: Golden Together

Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – Golden Together, a Movement to Restore the California Dream, led by author and government policy advisor Steve Hilton, held a press conference in front of the capital on Tuesday to present a second policy paper aimed at ending California’s housing shortage and ushering in a new era of housing abundance.

The Paper argues: “Our Housing Crisis is not only a disaster in its own right: it underlies so many of the other problems we face. Essential services like schools and hospitals can’t recruit the best professionals if there is nowhere nearby they can afford to live. Businesses won’t set up operations in California if there’s nowhere nearby for their workforce to live. We will never close the racial wealth gap unless we expand home ownership, the surest path for people to achieve upward mobility and build generational wealth.”

“California’s Housing Crisis is not some natural disaster or unavoidable accident. It is the direct result of policy choices, many of them well-intended, that have combined over the years to make it almost impossible to build homes on the scale we need,” Hilton said. “The good news is these policies can be changed; we can reform the policies which have made housing so expensive. Instead of scarcity, we can have abundance.”

He added, “Instead of politicians telling people where and how to live we can move into a new era of Housing Choice and Homeowner Autonomy. We can solve our debilitating housing crisis with a new approach that is modern, sustainable and more human. We must plan for, and achieve, Universal Housing Affordability. This, our second policy report from Golden Together, shows the way.”

Click here to view the paper titled “Achieving Universal Housing Affordability”

Key Points:

  • Only 15 percent of California households can afford to purchase a median priced home in the state. To purchase a home at the median price in California in 2023, a household would have to have an annual income of $221,000.
  • California’s median home price of $819,740 has led to the state having the lowest rate of home ownership in America. Only 18 percent of Californians are homeowners.
  • California is also the most expensive state in America for renters. To afford the average monthly rent for a two bedroom home, a full time worker would have to earn over $42 per hour.
  • According to UC. Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, there have been over one hundred separate pieces of legislation on housing in the last five years. Yet the actual number of new homes being built is going down (excluding a relatively small number of ADUs).
  • Between 2010 and 2021, lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) challenged housing plans that would have allowed more than one million new housing units.
  • So-called ‘Impact Fees’ have become a Stealth Tax on housing. Fees per new housing unit of $150,000 to $200,000 are typical. We have even seen reports of fees as high as $300,000 per new apartment unit.
  • Eliminating the private right of action under CEQA, and capping Impact Fees, as outlined in the California Homeownership Affordability Act (developed as a Ballot Initiative by Golden Together), would transform the availability and affordability of housing.
  • Beyond that, measures outlined in this report focus on taking advantage of the fact that we already have the highest housing density in the nation. There is plenty of room for new housing in California.
  • To illustrate the scale of what is possible if we embrace an ambitious approach based on abundance instead of scarcity, simply increasing California’s urban footprint from the current 5 percent of the state’s land to around 6 percent could provide housing for 10 million new residents, all of them living in homes on quarter acre lots (four person households), with an equivalent area set aside for schools, parks, roads, retail and commercial centers.
  • Further investigation should also be applied to other aspects of California’s housing framework that artificially reduce housing availability and affordability, for example the role of corporate ownership of housing and the recently passed Proposition 19.
  • Capping taxes on housing, changing zoning laws that restrict housing development, and revising well-intentioned environmental protections to better recognize the needs of California’s struggling households would go a long way towards making housing affordable again.
  • All of this can be achieved while maintaining California’s climate goals. There are much better ways to reduce carbon emissions than anti-housing policies that deny working families – in particular families of color – the opportunities of upward mobility and the California Dream.
  • We will never solve California’s Housing Crisis and achieve Universal Housing Affordability unless we end the war on single family homes. Suburban neighborhoods should be in addition to urban infill; neither should replace the other. By using the latest innovations and technologies, California’s new, 21st century suburban neighborhoods can be designed to be beautiful, and most importantly, sustainable.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Richard McCann

    Only 15 percent of California households can afford to purchase a median priced home in the state. 

    Last time  we saw this level of affordability was 2007. We know what happened next…

  2. David Thompson

    I appreciate that David shares different perpectives on the housing crisis in California.

    However, Wikipedia introduces Hilton as a Fox News contributor and Trump defender,

    Stephen Glenn Charles Hilton (born 25 August 1969)[1][2] is a British and American political commentator, former political adviser, and contributor for Fox News Channel.[3] He served as director of strategy for the British Prime Minister David Cameron from 2010 to 2012.[4] Hilton hosted The Next Revolution, a weekly current affairs show for Fox News from 2017 to 2023. [5] He is a proponent of what he calls “positive populism” and a vocal supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump.[6]

    Hilton’s housing initiative is described by one San Francisco columnist as a “developer giveway”.

    The messsage I get from this article is  the only cure is more single family homes.

    Certainly single family production is one element but not the only one.

    There appears to be no reference to multi-family production or to the many Californians who rent and how we deal with the millions who are overpaying rent and need subsidy or end up homeless.

    Pleaase don’t sign this initiative. It will only speed up our housing problems.

    David J Thompson

    Not associated with either Neighborhood Partners, LLC or Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation.



    1. David Greenwald

      It’s definitely a different perspective. I just happened to catch a little tidbit on the afternoon news where he was talking about impact fees as tough he had discovered the holy grail.

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