California’s gorgeous beaches, perfect weather, and diverse population are almost enough to mask the ridiculous cost of basic living essentials. Since the golden state’s founding in 1850, people from all across the country and beyond have made their way to the coast looking for that ideal Angeleno lifestyle. Although living in California has countless perks, it comes at a price that many can’t afford to pay.
The cost of living continues to grow exponentially by the year. Families who have lived in California for generations are being forced to relocate due to the unreasonable price of housing, gas prices, and other expenses.
California had grown familiar with the idea of a growing state, that is, until 2020. California experienced its first ever decline in residents directly after the start of the global pandemic. This unprecedented decline of population led to the state’s first loss of a seat in congress. The out migration that plagues California is largely made up of the middle and lower class residents who simply cannot afford the expense of living.
Younger Angelenos who have yet to truly establish themselves are going to find it quite difficult to stay in California. According to The New York Times, the median price for a single-family home surpassed $818,260 in May of 2021. Only one year earlier the median price was at $588,070. California locals are having a difficult time keeping up with the rapidly increasing price of living. Even renting a two-bedroom apartment runs extremely high at just shy of $2,000 a month.
“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” California governor, Gavin Newsom said.
Affordable housing needs to be made available. Young adults who are juggling work and putting themselves through college have no chance of establishing themselves on the west coast.
“And when you’re paying 70-80% of your income to rent, a very small thing can get you evicted. So for folks that are in that position, eviction is much more the result of inevitability than irresponsibility,” Matthew Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton University said.
If California plans to accommodate its current and future residents, reform is absolutely necessary. The state’s minimum wage must be increased, rent control must be implemented, and housing complexes must be accepted.
Many homeowners in California fear the end of single-family zoning. Unfortunately there are not a lot of options to combat the crisis the state is experiencing. An estimated 3.5 million homes need to be built by the year 2025 to meet the long overdue demand of homes. Residents attached to the single sized family homes must let go of this idea and make way for a new era of affordable housing for all. Within only three years, the state’s population of homeless has increased by 7% with over 151,000 people without a roof over their heads each night. Homeowners’ fear of traditional housing norms should be easily outweighed by the millions of people who fear homlessness and eviction.
Not only is it pricey to have a place to live, it is also pricey to go out at all. California holds the U.S. record for gas prices. Los Angeles County is currently averaging $6.02 a gallon. NBCLA reported that gas prices in L.A. rose for 22 consecutive days starting on March 16 and will continue to rise. Los Angeles’ current minimum wage of $15/hour is simply not sustainable for most households.
Alex Sanchez, a student with his bachelor’s degree, has been working at a Starbucks far from his home for the last four years. Him and his brother work at the same store location and carpool to most of their shifts. Even this is not enough to combat the unruly gas prices.
“In the past I didn’t mind driving because filling up my car was around $35 a week. Now it costs over $50 to fill up and it’s a struggle to have money for other things especially since I make minimum wage,” said Sanchez.
When it is too expensive to drive to work, the prices are unrealistically high.
California must implement plans and systems to ameliorate the high cost of living, otherwise it will experience an involuntary mass exodus. The state has the country’s highest GDP (gross domestic profit) and should use this money to push towards ideal living and affordable lifestyles rather than for profit and gain.
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