California is both the richest and poorest state in the union, this vast wealth inequality is primarily due to the cost of housing and lack of new construction. Middle-class families are getting squeezed by the high cost of living; we’re caught between not being poor enough to receive government assistance and not being rich enough to afford the market-value of a home. 30 percent of us are paying half of our monthly income toward rent, 60 percent of us are paying 30 percent toward rent. When you add up housing, groceries, insurance, and other monthly expenses — it’s hard to get by.
Too many working people are living in their cars or sleeping on a friend’s couch because of an unexpected financial emergency; too many single parents and their children are thrown out of their homes because of recent divorce; and too many of our veterans are living on the street as a result of untreated Post-Traumatic Stress. Homelessness is both a human tragedy and public health risk, that’s why I believe we must give opportunity to those willing to take responsibility to get off the streets. That means making sure the County provides mental health and substance abuse services, as well as job programs, but also make sure those receiving support are showing accountability and working toward securing permanent housing.
Fact: San Diego has the 4th highest homeless population in America.
Fact: Californians pay more federal taxes than any other state in the nation.
Fact: San Diego is 20th in funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
See the problem? San Diego has one of the highest homeless populations in America, and yet we receive less resources than other parts of the country even though California pays more federal taxes than any other state.
Solution: Bring back California’s tax funds from the Federal Government and put our hard earned dollars to work for us. One simple fix recommended by a colleague that won’t raise anyone’s taxes, is to update HUD’s funding formula so San Diego receives the 4th largest allotment of HUD funding rather than 20th, commensurate with our needs as the 4th largest homeless population in the nation. Updating our ranking will return billions of California’s taxpayer dollars back to San Diego County to provide more low-income housing, mental health services for the unsheltered, and wrap-around services to solve our homeless crisis.
The federal government has relied on California taxpayers for too long, its time they pay up and put our hard-earned tax dollars to work for us.
Solution #2: Collaborating with non-profits and private investors through Opportunity Zones and HUD Grant Programs. Government cannot fix this problem alone, we must band together as a community to care for the least of these, provide emergency housing to the victims of domestic abuse, and help make people whole again.
If you’re a middle-class family, here’s my housing plan to give you that extra breathing room:
While the cost of living has gone up, wages have remained stagnant for years. At the end of the day, the only way we can make the cost of housing, healthcare and education more affordable is by helping people earn better wages. One way of reducing the wage gap is by addressing the skills gap.
Right now in America, there are literally more job vacancies (7 million) than people looking for work (6.2 million). 360,000 in manufacturing, 200,000 in construction and millions more in advanced manufacturing, construction, renewable energy, healthcare, education, financial services/business, hospitality, telecommunication, IT/cyber security, transportation and other high growth sectors. We can fill these vacancies by investing in childcare and innovative programs like “Registered Apprenticeships” — an earn-while-you-learn program that pays an average $70,000 a year and connects job seekers with employers who are in search of skilled workers.
As a former Department of Labor official, I have a detailed plan on how to bring these well-paying jobs to our district, by attracting employers and creating a pipeline skilled workers through vocational training, community college, and other educational alternatives to four-year college.
By investing in these jobs programs, we can increase the purchasing power of working families so they can afford the market-value of workforce housing.
To learn more about my jobs plan, click here.
But even with a good paying job, housing is out of reach for many working families. Workforce housing is foundational to any thriving community and is the main way working families build wealth to pass on to their children. That’s why as congressman, I’ll push to ensure our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and others who are integral to our community have access to affordable housing. I’ll also work to ensure young professionals, workers in the construction trades, retail salespeople, office workers and service workers can live, work and retire with dignity right here in CA50.