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No Direction Home: California’s Affordable Housing Crisis

“No Direction Home” reaches many troubling conclusions about California’s housing market




“No Direction Home” reaches many troubling conclusions about California’s housing market:

  • How an unprecedented real estate boom is allowing speculators to buy up entire working-class neighborhoods and then gentrify them.
  • How people now live and commute increasingly far from their jobs, because their cities and towns lie on transit corridors connecting San Francisco or Silicon Valley.
  • How many immigrant workers pay top dollar for terrible living conditions.
  • How the number of Section 8 vouchers or units of affordable housing that local governments can offer has dramatically shrunk, thanks to privatization and Governor Jerry Brown’s dismantling of the state’s community redevelopment agencies.
  • How people languish for years on waiting lists for the small number of affordable housing units that do exist.
  • How local and state governments lack the political will to confront the housing crisis on a large-enough scale to make a real difference


Series Components

  • Introduction: Journalist and author Sasha Abramsky (Atlantic Monthly, New York magazine, Salon, Slate,  New Yorker, Daily Beast, Rolling Stone) presents the sobering facts about California’s increasingly unaffordable housing market, and what it means for the future of the Golden State.
  • In his four-part narrative portrait, Abramsky travels to Fresno, Oakland, Hollywood and Orange and Sonoma counties, where he hears the stories of people living in a state of permanent crisis because they lack affordable housing, including:
    • Sylvie Shain, one of only two remaining holdout tenants in the Villa Carlotta apartment complex, a faded beauty of Hollywood architecture that awaits its luxury makeover — and the wealthier residents who will inevitably take Shain’s place.
    • Melissa Jones, a grade-school art teacher with a master’s degree renting a one-bedroom basement apartment with her son in Santa Rosa.
    • Isabelle Lopez, who shares a room with cardboard walls with her husband inside a grossly subdivided house in Santa Ana
    • Randina Elias, who lives with her two children in a Fresno apartment complex infested with rats and roaches and plagued by crime.
  • Acclaimed photographer Ted Soqui (The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, NBC News, Daily Beast, New York Magazine, Los Angeles magazine) documents California’s quiet but potentially explosive crisis.
  • Debra Varnado examines why so many working Californians struggle to find a place to live that doesn’t take more than a third of their income in rent or mortgage.
  • Ana Beatriz Cholo (Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press) talks to developers to hear their critique of what is holding up the creation of more affordable housing.
  • In a separate piece, Cholo also explores solutions to alleviate the uncertainty of millions of Californians who have no idea what the next year – or next month – will mean for their living conditions.


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