Local employers worry about lack of affordable housing, study finds

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce study released Tuesday found that employer satisfaction with the local housing supply has never been lower.

The regional housing crisis has decreased affordability, created longer commutes and frustrated employees and employers alike, the study found. It projects a continued shortage in North County specifically, among a “substantial imbalance of housing and jobs.”

Limited housing has strong economic implications, said Sean Karafin, vice president of policy and economic research with the chamber.

“Employers, in greater and greater numbers, are losing talented employees to places like Seattle, Austin and Denver, where housing is more affordable and there are more options for employees and their families,” he said. “This means that employers will look to grow in our competitor regions instead of right here in San Diego.”

San Diego-based London Moeder Advisors authored the new study as an update to a 2016 document.

Without significant action, the study forecasts a worsening shortage well into the future and ever-increasing housing costs whether a home is for sale or rent.

The consequences of not significantly bolstering the supply could become “irreversible,” according to the study, which said the “inability to reconcile housing supply and demand is likely to fuel an unprecedented economic challenge for the region, as employers are weighed down by the plight of their employees unable to find or afford their preferred housing type.”

The study found that anticipated demand for single-family homes, in particular, will be considerably higher than the potential for such structures in local housing plans, which often focus on urban apartments and condominiums.

“Younger millennials, and millennials who have yet to start families, may be continuing to prefer urban apartments and condominium living. But we shouldn’t assume the same is true for those starting families,” said senior principal Gary London, who wrote the study. “We need to focus on providing housing options for this growing population looking for that single-family feel by producing cluster-detached, rowhomes and townhomes, among other options.”

A San Diego Association of Governments housing need determination called for an additional 42,852 units to be built between 2012 and 2016. There were only 20,103 new units built during that frame, or 46.9 percent of expected growth.

Additionally, a large number of units are being developed away from job centers, the study said.

“Ultimately, we have concluded that there will be an economic price to pay, as housing growth is not aligned with job growth. The situation tugs at the heart of our region’s economic sustenance,” it said.