One Degree of Separation
Continuing the conversation… about our record low supply & record high prices over the last decade. And how in June, SC County was named both the #2 Most Expensive Place to Buy AND the #1 Most Expensive Place to Rent in the Country. For somewhere as small as Santa Cruz, those are significant distinctions (not in a good way) and a serious measure of our current housing crisis.
Housing problems impact every person in Santa Cruz on a daily basis in ways both big and small. To cope, we’ve learned to look the other way on the big things and complain about the little ones that affect us personally. There’s a huge disconnect between how those problems are discussed in public and the direct toll they take on many community members.
Talk about the lack of affordable housing doesn’t really speak to the panic two school teachers are feeling since the owner of the 3br house they’ve been renting for $1,600/mo passed away. They’re waiting to see what the rent will be raised to or whether they’ll get notice to vacate.
Talk about lack of availability doesn’t really describe the Bonny Doon couple w/two children and two dogs who lost their home in the CZU fire, and have stayed with friends for three years because they can’t find a local rental that allows dogs.
Talk about workforce displacement doesn’t really give voice to the plight of the single Mom who commutes from Hollister because it’s more affordable. Or the fact that the owners of the places she cleans also commute over the hill to earn the salaries necessary to buy homes.
Talk about existential threats to the unhoused doesn’t describe the last hours of Erik Morales, whose body was discovered on the River levee on September 19th. And talk about chronic housing insecurity doesn’t do justice to those in our midst who are living one paycheck away from disaster.
Talk about the widening wealth gap doesn’t really explain the gulf between those who were lucky enough to buy a home 30 years ago and those who may never be able to buy one. And all the talk about downsizing doesn’t help aging seniors with lots of equity who still can’t afford to stay in Santa Cruz.
Talk about NIMBYs and YIMBYs doesn’t really address the increasing friction between aging baby boomers wanting to preserve their home values and status quo and millennial buyers struggling to crack the code of homeownership..
None of us gets to escape the housing crisis. At this point we all own it. There’s only one degree of separation between each of us and ALL of the housing issues that impact us as a community.