News Release


May 04

Coachella Valley Workforce Housing Summit

RANCHO MIRAGE - When the two "desert Supervisors" for Riverside County deliver their opening remarks to the "Coachella Valley Workforce Housing Summit" at the Westin Mission Hills Resort later this month, they'll be mindful of some rather gloomy statistics for first-time buyers.

As Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson noted in a May 3 address to the "Affordable Housing Conference" in Riverside, the "International Housing Affordability Survey" for 2007 shows the Riverside-San Bernardino Counties region as 12th worst in the English-speaking world. The survey rates regions throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. The survey says that in the United States, the Inland region is 8th worst.

"I don't think I have to tell you that the lack of workforce housing is a statewide issue, not unique to Riverside County," Wilson told the UCR gathering. "This fact, however, should not cause us to lose sight of the fact that our affordable housing problem is gigantic."

With these sobering statistics in mind, Wilson and Fifth District Supervisor Marion Ashley will kick off the event, which is being staged by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments. The supervisors note that young professionals—police officers, teachers, nurses—can't afford their own homes.

In fact, the International Housing Survey considers a house price-to-household income ratio of greater than 5.1 to be severely unaffordable. The ratio for the Riverside/San Bernardino Counties region is 7.9. Translation: the median house price of $408,000 is way out of reach for the median household income of $51,000.

And the problem is getting worse: in the year 2000, according to the California Association of Realtors, 47 percent of the population in Riverside could afford the median home price of $385,000. In 2005, only 15 percent could afford the median home price of $412,000.

Agua Caliente Tribal Chairman Richard Milanovich will deliver the introductory remarks for the Summit, which officially gets under way at 9 a.m. on the last day of May.

Sponsored by the County of Riverside, the Building Industry Association, the Agua Calientes and Burrtec, the day-long session features noted Inland Economist John Husing on the "State of Workforce Housing in Coachella Valley."

The remainder of the program comprises a variety of panels on the scope of the problem and possible solutions.

"This should be a very productive step in the arduous process of assuring the American Dream for area residents," Ashley said. "It won't be easy, but this is the kind of event we need to ensure we're all rowing in the same direction."