Definition: Affordable Housing

Listening to Rusty Kennedy expound on the answer, I realized that I asked the wrong question.  He repeated his answer even as I tried to restate, “Thirty percent of income going towards housing is affordable; if a person has no earnings then housing cost should be zero (free), if earnings are $1000 per month then housing cost should be $300.  (By extension working full time at California minimum wage is $1920 per month so housing cost should be $576).  

What can you get in Orange County for $576 per month?  Share a bedroom with the bathroom down the hall, kitchen and living room accessible with utilities thrown in, maybe even Wi-Fi available.  You would be lucky to rent a low-end, studio apartment for less than $1100.  Working backwards you need $3670 income per month or $23 per hour for a studio!  One bedroom apartments cost $1300 per month minimum and 2 bedroom, well you get the point, even more expensive. 

I get it.  Housing in Orange County is not affordable for low wage earners.  Therefore we, as residents of Fullerton, are responsible for providing affordable housing to individuals and families who don’t earn enough to pay the rent.  In fact, California law decrees it (SB-2).  

My blinders were stripped away when I found out that transitional housing (bridge housing), helping families get back on their feet, is not working—there is no way a family at minimum wage can return to be an asset to the community because of the inability to rent living space. 

Back to my question: I should have asked what is the minimum standard for an affordable housing living space?   I tried to affect an answer but, well we timed out.  The meeting was drawing to an end (Fullerton Homeless Plan Committee, November 26, 2019) and the discussion of the Strategic Plan for Addressing Homelessness had, as a result of the meeting, pretty much exhausted the issue of oversight but little more.   They are trying and my hat off to the members of the committee for their efforts.  

The minimum standard?  Mr. Kennedy did say that the incomeless-homeless would be housed in a shelter, and interestingly, there are no apparent standards for shelters.  Those with some income….  What is the minimum standard for an affordable housing living space?  We are back to a room or shared room with the amenities down the hall.  Sort of like student housing.  At California State University, Fullerton student housing, the full-meal plan shared-room plan is $2400 per month and the full-meal plan single is $2900 per month.  I imagine that private enterprise can provide the same for less.

OOPS.  So we put them in housing, taking 30% of their income but they are, for the most part, addicted to drugs or alcohol or something worse.  (I participated in the OC Point-In-Time Count last February and those we counted were all addicted, none were in the military and all had been in and out of shelters with no interest in returning to a shelter).  So we put everyone in some facility and most are addicted and the Strategic Plan was shy substantive recommendations to handle addiction.  My limited experience with addiction has exhibited putting them in housing and suggesting they should end their addiction won’t work.

Affordable housing may be an important attribute to solving the homeless problem but is only one factor.  

Fullerton, I agree it is complicated, however, your Strategic Plan won’t work. 

2 thoughts on “Definition: Affordable Housing

  1. The “it won’t work” claim makes much sense IF the fact that a financially supported person is now in housing but the reasons they were homeless remain – only now they have a place to stay. What happens in the morning?



    1. The morning after leaves a hangover that will continue, unabated, since there are too many to help and most refuse the help because they are happy where they are with what they get. Why not “skate” since big bro will come through, he always does for the sycophants.


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