Affordable Housing Shortage Examined

Feb. 18 Randall Lewis Seminar will explore causes, policy solutions

PonTell, Rutherford, Gutierrez

A Feb. 18 seminar on the shortage of affordable housing will feature (from left) Steve PonTell, president and CEO of National Community Renaissance, San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford, and former Riverside planning director Ken Gutierrez.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – California faces a critical shortage of affordable housing, and nowhere is that problem more severe than in the Inland Empire. The need for more affordable housing in the region, and possible policy solutions, will be discussed in a seminar presented Wednesday, Feb. 18, by the UC Riverside Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

“Affordable Housing: A Shortage Crisis,” part of the center’s on-going Randall Lewis Seminar Series, will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology, 1084 Columbia Ave. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required as seating is limited. RSVP online or by calling (951) 827-7830.

“Affordability of housing is one of the most critical issues facing this region,” said Ron Loveridge, a UCR political science professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development. “Southern California hosts the highest housing costs in the country. The future of Inland Southern California will be importantly tied to the cost of housing. Who lives here? Who stays here? Why are housing costs here so high, particularly in comparison with most other regions of the country? And perhaps more importantly, what changes are possible, and how do they happen? ”

Drawing from a special report – “America’s Emerging Housing Crisis,” published by nonprofit affordable housing developer National Community Renaissance – seminar moderator Steve PonTell will frame the issue and present seven policy solutions offered by report authors Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox.

San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford and former Riverside city planning director Ken Gutierrez will respond to reforms proposed by the report to reduce the cost of housing, including: Land regulation reform, impact fees reform and reduction, establishment of special housing districts, re-use of vacant commercial and industrial space, development of government land where appropriate, re-ordering local planning and zoning priorities, and meeting environmental goals by considering the changing nature of work and the new possibilities suggested by technological innovation.

In “America’s Emerging Housing Crisis,” Kotkin and Cox note that California has the highest poverty rate in the nation (when adjusted for the cost of housing), largely due to housing prices. On a percentage basis, four of California’s major metropolitan areas are in the nation’s top 10 in households with more than one family sharing a housing unit, they wrote. The top two are Riverside-San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

“The groups most likely to be hurt by the shortfall in housing include young families, the poor and renters,” Kotkin and Cox wrote. “These groups include a disproportionate share of minorities, who are more likely to have lower incomes than the population in general. This situation is particularly dire in those parts of the country, such as California, that have imposed strong restrictions on home construction. California’s elaborate regulatory framework and high fees imposed on both single- and multi-family housing have made much of the state prohibitively expensive. Not surprisingly, the state leads the nation in people who spend above 30 percent, as well as above 50 percent, of their income on rent.”

Steve PonTell is president and chief executive officer of National Community Renaissance (National CORE), one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable and senior housing. Before joining CORE, PonTell earned national recognition for his work in community development and designing innovative workplace environments. He also served as California director for the Center for the New West, a think tank founded in 1989. He also has served as CEO of the Inland Empire Economic Council, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce, and is a former assistant to the city manager for economic development for the City of Big Bear Lake. In 1996, he founded the La Jolla Institute, a California based, non‐profit think‐tank.

Janice Rutherford was elected to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 2010. The 2nd District includes the cities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, and much of Fontana, and the unincorporated communities of Devore, Lytle Creek, San Antonio Heights, Mt. Baldy, and all of the Rim of the World mountain communities from Cedarpines Park to Green Valley Lake. She previously served on the Fontana City Council for 10 years. She serves on the boards of San Bernardino Associated Governments, San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association, Inland Empire Economic Partnership, Local Agency Formation Commission, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Joint Conference Committee and Omnitrans.

Ken Gutierrez worked for the city of Riverside for more than three decades, retiring as the city’s planning director in 2011. He lead the preparation of a comprehensive update to the Riverside General Plan 2025, which was recognized in 2008 by the Southern California Association of Governments with a Compass Blueprint Distinguished Leadership Award and by the California Chapter of the American Planning Association with the Award of Merit for Comprehensive Planning. The Planning Department was recognized in 2009 by the CCAPA with the Award of Merit for Distinguished Leadership by a Planning firm or agency. In 2013, he was appointed by the Riverside City Council to fill a vacant seat on the council until the November 2013 election.


Established in 2003, the UCR Center for Sustainable Suburban Development explores the social, economic, political and environmental impacts that population growth and movement has on cities and local communities. The center facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations in the community through its staff and affiliated faculty via research, joint conferences, workshops and public forums held at UCR and in the community. It is affiliated with the UCR School of Public Policy.

The Randall Lewis Seminar Series is an ongoing program of CSSD generously funded by Randall Lewis, executive vice president of Upland-based Lewis Operating Cos. The seminars focus on a wide range of regional sustainability topics such as air and water resources, infrastructure and transportation planning, affordable housing and the fiscal health of cities.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
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Additional Contacts

Ron Redfern
Tel: (951) 827-7830

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