Challenges of housing, workforce and water take spotlight on day one of 2016 Summit

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(Photo Credit: Skip Jones Photography)

Capturing ideas to take on the triple challenges of California's housing crisis, water problems, and workforce skills gap were the focus of day one of the 2016 California Economic Summit in Sacramento Tuesday. 

California ranks second to last in the country in per capita housing units, which is driving up costs and exasperating the housing crisis. That’s according to McKinsey Senior Partner Dr. Jonathon Woetzel, who provided the stark facts to a housing team meeting today at the 2016 California Economic Summit.

He went on to say that the affordable housing crisis is “not a low-income problem–it’s everyone’s problem.”

The inability to afford adequate housing is an indicator of poverty, which is why it is the focus at this year’s Summit as more than 500 of the state’s civic, business and thought leaders gather in Sacramento to figure out how to tackle issues vital to California’s economic success. The Summit is co-presented by CA Fwd and the California Stewardship Network. It’s where the Housing, Workforce and Working Landscapes (water) task forces meet to set 2017 goals and create a plan of action.

The lack of affordable housing is costing California an estimated $140 billion in economic activity as residents struggle to rent or buy homes in their communities. The housing task force is building an “all of the above” strategy framework, which involves expanding resources for subsidized housing and, at the same time, increasing market-rate housing near employment hubs and transit.

The goal is to present the housing policy framework to the Legislature in 2017.

Woetzel did have good news in that the state is experiencing economic growth, although it is far outpacing housing growth. That economic growth is creating the need for more middle-income and skilled workers. Several Summit task forces are meeting to discuss how to train more workers for 21st century jobs, create educational pathways that lead to those jobs, identify capital and work within the regulatory system. Creating new good paying jobs and training workers to fill those positions is a step toward pulling Californians out of poverty and into the middle class.

The Summit is also working toward creating a sustainable and environmentally sound water supply, which will benefit both residents and businesses such as farms and ranches. The task force is working toward developing regional plans, improving state support and responsiveness, developing sustainable financing and scaling the plans for the entire state.

Creating affordable housing, training skilled workers for middle-income jobs and managing the state’s water supply are all part of the Summit’s One Million Challenges. And, if achieved, the Summit will have taken big steps toward restoring upward mobility and closing the income equality gap.

Tomorrow, the Summit action teams will present their 2017 plans on each of the One Million Challenges. Keynote speaker Dr. Raj Chetty, economics professor at Stanford, will address the drivers of poverty and opportunity and share information from his recent report on collapsing earnings for young Americans. The 2016 California Steward Leader Awards will be presented to Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO and president of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Bud Colligan, co-chair of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership.

Summit attendees will also hear from Lt. Governor Gavin Newson, UC President Janet Napolitano and State Senator Toni Atkins, among others.


Nadine Ono

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