Opponents also fail to recognize the larger socioeconomic problems that stem from a lack of affordable housing, which in some cases include the very things they fear most. For example, rather than causing more traffic, high-density housing actually relieves congestion by enabling people to live closer to their jobs. It helps revitalize run-down, blighted communities by replacing dilapidated housing with new homes that people are proud to live in and more willing to take care of. That, in turn, helps lower infrastructure costs and reduces, not increases, demand for public services. Affordable housing even helps kids do better in school by preventing families from moving constantly in search of cheaper housing or to avoid the stress of overcrowding. In short, the NIMBY people, if they continue to succeed in getting their way, are actually contributing to the eventual decline of the very neighborhoods and interests they claim to be protecting. Carried to its logical conclusion, their mind-set has already begun leading to the complete economic stratification of many areas, where the haves have theirs and the have-nots are someone else’s problem. As both a social and economic model, this kind of a future is ultimately unsustainable. Michael Costa is president of Long Beach-based Simpson Housing Solutions LLC and a board member of the Campaign for Affordable Housing.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s recent announcement that he would seek to put a $1 billion bond measure before voters to help finance the creation of more affordable housing is welcome news. The urgency he has attached to the proposal underscores that the battle to alleviate California’s severe shortage of affordable housing is one we are still losing. According to the California Association of Realtors, as of July, the median price of a home in California was nearly $541,000 – and much higher in markets like the San Fernando Valley. A typical two-bedroom apartment in L.A. now commands about $1,400 a month in rent. Ominously, only 16 percent of California households statewide earn enough to purchase a median-price home – a figure the CAR projects will drop even further next year as prices continue climbing while real wages and incomes lag hopelessly behind. Homeownership rates are particularly low among working families with children. What’s the problem here? AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE As an abstract concept, most people understand the underlying issues and agree that affordable housing is a good thing. Sadly, the primary culprit continues to be NIMBYism and the clout it carries among elected officials and housing decision makers. Propelled by irrational fears – of lower property values, reduced quality of life, more traffic, crime or overuse of public services and facilities – the main obstacles to creating more affordable housing, to be blunt, are people who already have theirs and think housing for folks who make less than they do is a fine idea so long as it’s built somewhere else. There is not a single example they can point to or one shred of evidence that affordable housing has actually caused any of the negative impacts opponents claim to fear. Yet, by undermining political support for the funding and zoning that make such housing possible, it is this opposition that continues to make it more difficult, and more costly, to construct new affordable housing. The reality is that the people who need affordable housing are our neighbors. Depending on where they live, a family of four at or below 80 percent of the area median income or AMI could be headed by a truck driver, legal clerk, elementary-school teacher, deputy sheriff or firefighter. Households at or below 50 percent of the AMI could include a nurse’s aide, accounting clerk, beautician, sales cashier, welder or bus driver. The point is that all of these are working families, struggling to make ends meet but contributing to the life of their community and trying to earn their piece of the American dream that the rest of us take for granted.