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Blog Post · March 22, 2023

Despite State Action, Grim Views on Housing Persist

photo - Aerial View of Suburbs in South Orange County, California

California’s housing crisis is not a new phenomenon—the issue has been brewing for decades. While California has made efforts to improve the availability of affordable housing in recent years, Californians maintain negative views of their local housing landscape, according to the February 2023 PPIC Statewide Survey.

Seven in ten Californians say housing affordability is a big problem in their part of California—the highest share saying this in our periodic surveys since 2017. This view is widely held, with majorities across regions and among demographic groups citing the problem. Furthermore, in a rare moment of partisan agreement, more than seven in ten Democrats and Republicans (72% each) and independents (75%) call housing affordability a big problem.

Meanwhile, a look across regions shows a notable divide, with residents in the San Francisco Bay Area the most likely—and those in the Central Valley the least likely—to say housing affordability is a big problem. Across racial/ethnic groups, African Americans are much more likely than others to hold this view. Moreover, while similar shares across age and income and among homeowners and renters agree that affordable housing is a major issue, this view rises with educational attainment.

Not only do many Californians recognize a problem with affordable housing in their part of the state, but six in ten are very concerned—and 27% are somewhat concerned—that the cost of housing will prevent the younger generation in their family from buying a home in their part of California. The share saying they are very concerned has increased 8 points since November 2004—the only other time we have asked this question.

Today, at least half across parties, regions, and demographic groups are very concerned about housing costs for the younger generation; but distinct differences appear over time. While more than six in ten across parties are very concerned, the share of Republicans who hold this view has jumped 18 points since 2004; it has gone up 7 points among independents and gone down 3 points among Democrats. Differences on this issue also appear across regions over time: the share of very concerned adults rose 15 points in Orange/ San Diego, 12 points in the Inland Empire, and 10 points in Los Angeles. Concern has also climbed by double digits among Asian Americans (+17) and Latinos (+18) as well as among those with only a high school diploma (+11, 45% to 56%), those with incomes under $40,000 (+11, 47% to 58%), and among renters (+11, 51% to 62%).

Record numbers of people have left California, according to recent data, and departures include groups who have traditionally stayed put, such as higher income earners. Many residents (45%) say housing costs have made them seriously consider moving from their part of the state—with three-quarters of this group saying they would move outside the state. Moreover, the share who seriously consider moving has doubled since 2004, when fewer than one in four held this view.

Perceptions of housing costs can have a real world impact. Californians most concerned about these costs will likely consider leaving the state—indeed, many have chosen that path in recent years.  This exodus from California has contributed to population declines for the first time in the state's history. As California grapples with the housing crisis, stay tuned to PPIC as we follow the state’s efforts around housing policy along with Californians’ opinions on this issue.


Housing Political Landscape Statewide Survey