Study, summit take aim at threats to housing affordability in the Inland Empire and what that means for SoCal as a whole

Ontario, Calif. – Regulatory burdens, locally and statewide, endanger the Inland Empire’s ability to provide middle-class housing, creating economic tremors that can be felt throughout Southern California, according to a study to be released next month.

The report, by internationally recognized authority on global, economic and social trends, Joel Kotkin, will be unveiled at the 2015 Symposium on the Affordability of Housing, sponsored by the Inland Valleys Association of Realtors in conjunction with National Community Renaissance. “Housing the Future: The Inland Empire as Southern California’s Indispensable Geography,” will bring together local leaders in government, business, real estate and economic development on Feb. 5 at the DoubleTree Hotel Ontario Airport.

Panel discussions will focus on what the industry can do, and what government can do, to help the Inland Empire fulfill its vital economic role within the Southern California region as a whole. With more than 4 million people, the Inland Empire is home to a critical population mass, spurred on by greater housing affordability. This, in turn, has helped the I.E. recover jobs more quickly than the coastal regions since the end of the Great Recession.

However, regulatory burdens and a shortage of housing are driving costs up, encouraging people who might have settled in the Inland Empire to look elsewhere – often out of state.

“Local cities and towns have to start regarding housing not as a detriment, but as a critical economic asset,” said Kotkin, Executive Director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism and author of a number of books on global trends. “Affordable housing has driven the region’s growth for a generation, and if this asset degrades or becomes too expensive, the future consumer and workforce base of the entire region will deteriorate.”

Mark Dowling, Chief Executive Officer of the Inland Valleys Association of Realtors, said the Feb. 5 summit will zero in on the Inland Empire’s economic and social impact on Southern California as a whole – something that is often overlooked.

“This truly is indispensable real estate for the broader region, and the affordability of housing is a big reason why,” Dowling said. “Preserving that is essential not just for the Inland Empire, but for the entire region.”

According to the California Association of Realtors, 47 percent of households in the I.E. could afford a median-priced home during the third quarter of 2014, versus 32 percent throughout Greater Los Angeles. In Orange County, only 20 percent of households could afford a median-priced home.

Even so, the affordability index for the Inland Empire has dropped during the past year, from 51 percent of households being able to afford a median-priced home during the comparable period in 2013.

“This is a troubling trend, and one we anticipate continuing as demand outpaces availability,” said Steve PonTell, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Community Renaissance, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. “Statewide, we are 600,000 units short of meeting demand, meaning we would have to build 600,000 units just to break even. In the current regulatory environment, that’s not likely to happen.”

The Feb. 5 summit is the third regional or national housing symposium hosted by National CORE since 2012. In addition to Kotkin, Dowling and PonTell, speakers and panelists include Tom Bannon, Chief Executive Officer of the California Apartment Association; David Bartlett, Vice President of Land Entitlement for Brookfield Residential Properties Inc.; Jim Perry, President of the Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter; Joel Singer, Executive Vice President of the California Association of Realtors; Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit; San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford; Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren; and Rick Bishop, Executive Director of the Western Riverside Council of Governments.

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WHAT: “Housing the Future: The Inland Empire as Southern California’s Indispensable Geography”
WHEN: 1 p.m., Feb. 5, 2015
WHERE: DoubleTree Hotel Ontario Airport, 222 N. Vineyard Ave., Ontario, CA
REGISTRATION: www.nationalcore.org/symposium

HOST: National Community Renaissance
TITLE SPONSOR: Inland Valleys Association of Realtors
ADDITIONAL CO-CONVENERS:
Building Industry Association Baldy View Chapter
California Apartment Association
Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino
Building Industry Association Riverside County Chapter

FOR MEDIA: EMBARGOED copies of the Kotkin report available upon request.

Contact: Steve Lambert, The 20/20 Network
(909) 841-7527/ steve@the2020network.com

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