Home ownership

Doug and I (and half of L.A.) wish that we could afford to purchase a home. Real estate is out of control, even in our neighborhood, and the recent price tags I have heard for homes in our neighborhood are $800,000 and $1.2 million. Our neighborhood is made up largely of these big, at one time majestic homes that are now subdivided into small rental units. What looks like a single family home often ends up being up to eight rental rooms. There are also many larger multi-plex properties like those next door and across the street from us.

I have heard some pretty fascinating statistics about housing in L.A. I don’t remember where I read it (L.A. Times, I think?), but a year ago a person had to be in the top ten percent of income earners to afford a home in Los Angeles. It will be a while (like never) before Doug and I will find ourselves in that position.

The most recent intriguing housing fact I read came from a fellow Covenanter’s blog. Don Johnson, a pastor up north in Santa Barbara, reports that because his community is facing median home prices of $1.2 million, there are plans in the works for a subsidized housing development for those earning below $177,000.

And I thought the WIC program had some generous income cutoffs.


  1. Interesting post. I remember reading something like that story concerning Santa Barbara. It had to do with the fact that many of the cities civil servants — police officers, fire fighters, teachers, etc. — could not afford to own or even live in the city they help. That seems to me to be an ethical issue.

  2. My son, Ben, will be moving to Santa Barbara to do PhD work this Fall. He’s psyched to go to CA.

    The best sermon I ever heard was by George Murray titled, “Equity or Eternity.” It was an honest sermon about the amount of money and time Christ-followers are putting into earthly habitations. It was a stunning call to reevaluate. As a pastor I can tell you that when people buy a home, especially younger couples, you can often kiss them bye for some time. Every available hour is spent in refurbishing their new place and every extra dollar. Have a kid come along and its the room redecorating and the new yard paraphenalia. It just goes on and on. I think it is scandalous. I like Ralph Neighbor’s church planting strategy – groups of Christians evangelizing neighborhoods by renting near one another, planting a church, and then sending out others to do the same. As Neighbor puts it, “We must live simply so that others can simply live.” And then there is the whole issue of suburbia – the holy trinity of safety, privacy and only the best for my children.

  3. Thanks, Don. I have definitely seen the phenomena you describe here! My generation is the home depot culture for sure 🙂

    I totally get the desire for a home. With our growing family, I relate to those who want to create a space that can be home both for the family as well as a place for hospitality. And I know that for a lot of my peers, the only affordable homes are those in need of a lot of work–work that they cannot afford to pay someone else to do.

    You raise a great question, one that has been on my mind of late. Thanks!

  4. I’m a transplant from the Bay Area, so I can completely relate to the housing craziness! And here, in Chicagoland, people look at me like I have three heads when I say something like, “we moved here because it’s so much more affordable to live.” 🙂

    How are you feeling these days?

  5. I cannot agree with the notion that we should spend out lives renting. What a terrible waste of resources. For years the well-to-do have continued to segregate and isolate through the passing along of wealth through land. I know, I know “The Messiah had no place to lay his head”.. but what about the command in Babylon to make homes, marry, and settle or the overwhelming presence of “the land” through the older testement.

    Poor stewardship and time management is one thing but restricting ourselves to renting seems like a lot of thrown away cash. I would love to see homes purchased and opened up to those who can’t afford them otherwise. Not through rent but through equity and partnership.

    We shouldn’t be tied down and we should never forget what will be left behind, but we need a healthy way of not being stuck in rental bliss for our entire lives…..

  6. Robyn,
    It’s nice to hear you are a Chicagoan now! I lived there for seven years and miss it often (though not in the winter…or the summer, for that matter :))

    Yeah, I don’t think that people outside of California have even a reference point for how totally crazy housing here is. I am sure people do look at you like you are crazy!

    I am feeling pretty well, trying to adjust to life without lifting–which is so close to impossible with little ones, as you know. Just praying that the hernia won’t come back. I’m not sure we could endure a second round of this–we are pretty fragile at the moment. Thanks for asking!

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