Finance plays a huge role in pretty much any aspect of your life. Some areas are immediately obvious; for example, you may have to save for a house down payment or purchase a cheaper car because you cannot afford anything above a certain price. Likewise, you might rent a more expensive apartment if it shaves an hour off of your daily commute. In fact, commute times, housing supply and many related issues are part of public policy finance. This infographic examines the concept through the lens of a housing crisis in California.
Identifying the Issue(s)
An early step in any public policy matter is to pinpoint an issue, or problem, that needs addressing. Committees, agencies, and panels review various ideas, and set into action the ones thought to have the potential to be most effective. Progress is monitored, and adjustments made as necessary. You could say that public policy is never set in stone; it is a living thing.
In the case that this infographic illustrates, it was evident that California was experiencing a housing crisis that had far-reaching consequences. For example, longer commute times were leading to more traffic congestion, and recruiting workers was more difficult because of issues stemming from a housing-price mismatch.
For the past few years at least, housing prices had been at the point where the majority of California households could not afford to buy or even rent affordably. The median income for a California family in 2014 was $61,933, while housing stock in the state was 80 percent above the U.S. average as of March 2015. Huge mismatch, huge public policy problem. Solving this one issue would help address multiple problems.
Ideas to remedy the housing price mismatch were offered at various levels. For example, some officials in San Francisco called for density levels to be relaxed, while the governor of California worked to heighten investment in low-income housing. Not only that, the minimum wage would be gradually raised, and Democrats in the state general assembly put forth a program that would infuse cash into low-income housing.
The housing crisis in California was tackled at both state and local levels. At the state level, some of the general assembly initiatives did not pass; one that did was a $3 billion bond issue to help the homeless, low-income and farmhands. Meanwhile, implementation in San Francisco included a reduction in mass evictions and setting aside a certain number of housing units for low-income families.
As is evident, the housing crisis in California is an ongoing issue that will require much monitoring and addressing. Only time will tell how much effect these recent changes will have on such issues as traffic congestion and worker recruitment. While officials have made some progress, there needs to be even more support from the people who matter, and entities such as homeowners and the media need to do their part.
Housing is only one of many public policy issues. Others include college debt, employee pay, prison reform, and mental health funding. Hopefully, the infographic discussed above has given you a better understanding of how governments use public policy finance to enact reform.