We wake up everyday and put our best foot forward in school-hustling, bustling, and competing so when we graduate from college we will lock down a great job. We do this in hopes of proving to ourselves and our parents that all the tuition money and debt was worth it. After landing our dream job we will make tons of money, have a fabulous car and eventually purchase a house. Nothing says “American dream” like owning a home and surrounding it with a white picket fence especially in the greatest state in the nation; California. Promises of fame, fortune, beautiful people, the beach, the mountains and sunny weather, Southern California is perfection.
Cotton candy clouds and bikini dreams melt away as reality sets in. According to Fading Promise: Millennial Prospects in the Golden State, a report led by Chapman professor, Joel Kotkin and Chapman Center for Demographics and Policy Board of Advisors member, Wendell Cox, the state of the housing market is dim. California has the lowest homeownership rate of any major metropolitan area. For (millennials), the stats are even more crippling. California lays claim to the lowest rate for millennial home ownership of any large state in the country. For most, rent is the only option. Compounding this issue, saving money is nearly impossible as the cost of living in the region is among the highest in the nation.
According to the report, the housing crisis is due to ineffective and harmful government policies that have slithered their way into our state capitol. Over regulation and impossible environmental mandates leave our housing development tangled in red tape. California has fought development of suburban neighborhoods and prides itself on fighting Green House Gas emissions. But there is nothing to be proud of when the state’s homeownership rate for ages 25-34 is 40% below the national average (according to the report).
The implications of this report are difficult to face. What does this mean for the millennial generation in California? We won’t have the opportunity to save or purchase a home unless we leave the state. But the California economy, which is essentially the sixth largest economy in the world, needs us. As life long-learners, we would like the chance to rise to the challenge.
With the help of older generations, we can get our state out of this housing rut. California has the land, mixed-use housing opportunities and most importantly, the demand. However, the burden falls on all of us to be abreast of the legislation that is being passed and take action when necessary.
Democracy is powerful. Millennials don’t have all the answers or solutions. However, it’s clear that all generations in California have to come together for our future. As students, parents, educators, business people, government workers, environmentalists and developers, we all play a role in this. It’s up to us to create a friendly housing environment and breathe new life into the California Dream.
A special acknowledgment to Chapman’s very own lead researchers on this report; Ali Modarres, Alicia Kurimska, Charlie Stephens, Aayush Aggarwal, Erika Nicole Orejola and editor Zina Klapper. The report was done in collaboration with the Center for California Real Estate, an institute of the California Association of REALTORS.