A new state program is assisting Californians who are facing evictions and housing insecurity during the pandemic. (Photo by Black Press USA)

By LaNiece Jones,

California’s severe housing shortage and the lack of available housing the average family can afford, did not begin with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But financial hardships Californians now face resulting from the global health crisis has only made our housing problems worse.

The average cost of a home in California is more than 80 percent higher than the rest of the country. And renters in our state pay, on average, 50 percent more each month than people in other states, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s office.

It would take building about 180,000 new homes a year in California to meet the state’s housing goal. However, developers construct less than half of that number, around 70,000 units, annually.

Our housing problem seems unsolvable, but there is hope.

A new state program is assisting Californians facing eviction or foreclosure, or those who don’t stand a chance of affording a home that’s close to their jobs or family.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020 to 2021 state budget provides $300 million to the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to help families all over the state. Some of you have been looking hard for a home but to no avail and others have been getting up and working hard every day but you still find yourself struggling with unstable or unaffordable housing.

According to CalHFA, $50 million of the funds will support its housing counseling program, which is a critical aspect of the home-buying process.

More than 75 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved counseling agencies all over the state. These agencies will provide free and confidential advice to Californians who are facing eviction or looking for a home.

Information about home buying, reverse mortgages, mortgage delinquency, rental housing, and homelessness programs are all offered by the counseling agencies.

So far, over 17,400 households have been served through the program.

1n 2012, a group of faith-leaders filed a lawsuit against the country’s largest home lenders to protect homebuyers and homeowners from exploitation in the housing market.

That case resulted in the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) agreement. The agreement allows certified counselors from the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to help families secure and maintain quality and affordable housing.

That help could not come at a more critical time in our state. I encourage you to tap into this rare opportunity to get professional housing advice that will not cost you a cent.

Good, affordable housing is an integral part of the American dream. It’s central to our idea of who we are as a nation and how we view ourselves as citizens.

Your home is your health. It is your safety.

For additional information, reach out to the BWOPA Oakland/Berkeley Chapter, email staff@bwopa.org or call CalHFA at (877) 922-5432.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!