Crisis: Housing and Homelessness in California

April 17, 2020 9:00 AM to 3:45 PM PDT

Grand Hyatt San Francisco, 345 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA


Any effort to address poverty and inequality in California must start with the lack of affordable housing. The median home price in the state now tops $500,000, while the median rent for a two‐​bedroom apartment tops $1,800 per month, nearly 55 percent higher than the national median. In cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, average rent exceeds $2,500 per month. The high cost of housing is largely a function of high demand and low supply. Estimates show that California needs 3.5 million housing units by 2025 just to meet current needs.

At the same time, there are an estimated 130,000 homeless people in the state, including around 28,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area and 60,000 in Los Angeles County alone. But even often overlooked cities such as San Diego have homeless populations in excess of 8,000. By some calculations, more than 47 percent of all unhoused homeless people in America reside in California. We are witnessing a major human tragedy.

At the heart of these twin crises lies a plethora of government regulations and policies that make it harder to build affordable housing or to assist the homeless. Therefore, the Cato Institute is bringing together academic experts, housing activists, and political leaders from across the ideological spectrum to discuss ways in which state and local officials can make housing more available and affordable.

This conference will also mark the premiere of a series of short documentary films featuring Kelley Cutler, with the Coalition on Homelessness; Jim Wunderman, President of the Bay Area Council; Corey Smith, Deputy Director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition; and a variety of other experts, organizers, and people with firsthand experience sharing their stories and insight.

8:30 – 9:00AM Registration
9:00 – 9:15AM Welcome

Michael Tanner, Cato Institute

9:15 – 9:45AM Keynote

Lee Ohanian, UCLA

9:45 – 11:15AM Panel 1: Barriers to Affordable Housing

Jennifer Hernandez, Holland and Knight
Vanessa Brown Calder, Congressional Joint Economic Committee
Ricardo Flores, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Karen Chapple, Terner Center, UC Berkley
Moderated by Laura Foote, YIMBY Action

11:15 – 11:45AM Break
11:45AM – 1:00PM Lunch and Address

Micah Weinberg, CEO, California Forward

1:00 – 2:30PM Panel 2: The Growing Homelessness Epidemic

Matt Regan, Bay Area Council
Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego
Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Supervisor (invited)
Darrell Steinberg, Mayor of Sacramento (invited)

2:30 – 3:00PM Special Presentation: Life on the Streets, Hearing from the Homeless

Introduction by Sonja Trauss, YIMBY Law

3:00 – 3:30PM Closing Address

Patrick Collison, CEO, Stripe (invited)

3:30 – 3:45PM Final Remarks

Michael Tanner, Cato Institute

3:45 – 4:30PM Reception

Additional programming and speakers will be confirmed in the near future.

This Conference is free of charge. To register to attend this event, click the button below and submit the secure web form by 5:30PM EDT on Monday, April 13, 2019. You can join the conversation on Twitter by using #CatoCalifornia. If you have any questions pertaining to registration, you may e‑mail events@​cato.​org.