Cynthia Carranco, 16, must do her homework on the seats of dining room chairs because there is no other place to write in the three-bedroom house shared by nine people.(From OC Register)
She knows her situation is not unique: A friend sleeps in a walk-in closet, and others also live in crowded conditions.
"Sometimes it's hard being a teenager and not having any privacy," said Carranco, an Anaheim High School student.
Cynthia Carranco was one of the speakers at last night's forum on affordable housing in Anaheim. She and the other speakers spoke of their dire need for affordable housing. Yes, there's the controversial push for affordable housing in the "Anaheim Resort" district. You know, the one where Disney is putting up an initiative to "save the resort district". However, there are other battles being fought here as well. Of the 8,700 new homes going up in Anaheim's Platinum Triangle "luxury urban high-rise" development, NONE of them will be available for the lower-income workers who already have jobs in the area. There's a dire need for affordable housing, but that need is just being ignored.
But you know what? It's not just Anaheim. It's the entire Southern California region that's facing this crisis of affordable housing. And what are they doing about it? Follow me down below for more...
(Cross-posted at Calitics)
"My prayer is that you guys think of my daughter when you consider whether to put affordable housing in the Platinum Triangle or anywhere else in the city," said speaker Maria Mejia, who shares a mobile-home room with her husband and daughter.
Are we even thinking of Maria and her daughter? Are we thinking of Maria's neighbors at that mobile home park? Do we think of them when they clean our hotel rooms? Do we think of them when they pick up our trash at Disneyland? Do we think of them when clean our plates after we leave the restaurant?
We should. After all, it's getting harder to keep people filling these jobs, as they can't afford to live anywhere in the area. Heck, it's even getting difficult for employers to retain white-collar workers, as even they can't afford housing in such expensive places as Orange County! Just what are we thinking?
And are we even listening?
[Anaheim] Councilwoman Lorri Galloway was the sole City Council member to attend the forum, put on by Orange County Community Congregation Community Organization, a coalition of faith-based groups. [...]
The group asked Galloway to commit to supporting affordable housing as part of Platinum Triangle plans, which she agreed to do.
"It's not the big developers they should be listening to. They should be listening to you." Galloway said to the crowd.
We really should be listening to these workers. They are facing a huge financial burden. And as they suffer this burden, so does the entire economy in Southern California. Workers can't afford to live here, and they can't afford to shop here. And they can only afford to work here for so long, before that high cost of filling the gas tank finally catches up with them. And if companies start to lose their employees, they can no longer afford to do business here. If we can't listen to these workers, then we're not listening to the needs of the local economy.
But are we doing that? Anaheim so far is not.
Statistics were projected on the church hall wall, such as the city's approval about 11,000 homes for higher-income families, but just hundreds for low-income families since 1998.
Developers don't want affordable housing at the Platinum Triangle. Disney and the hotels don't want affordable housing in the "resort district" around Disneyland. So where the heck is affordable housing "permissible"? Where can the workers live? And how long can they keep working here so long as there's nowhere in the entire area where they can afford to live?
Why can't Disney and the hotels and the developers and the Chamber of Commerce types realize that affordable housing for their workers is in their long-term best economic interest? Just how long do they think they can retain their workers if the workers can't live anywhere? Just how long do they think they can can get away with avoiding these long-term crises?
The benefits of affordable housing in the area far outweigh the costs. Employers can keep their employees. Employees can keep shopping at local stores. The city can keep these workers as taxpaying residents. More money is kept in the local economy. Everyone really does benefit in the end.
It's too bad that this problem is playing out in Anaheim. But you know what? It's not just Anaheim. It's Santa Ana. It's Irvine. It's Los Angeles. It's Riverside and San Bernardino (yes, even parts of the Inland Empire are starting to lose their "affordable" edge!). Southern California desperately needs affordable housing. But so far, all our "elected officials and business leaders" want to do is talk about building more "luxury housing" in areas that are already over saturated with "luxury housing".
Well, guess what? We already have plenty of "luxury housing"! What we need is affordable housing for low and middle-class workers! When will we start listening to them, and to their needs?