Jul 10 2019

Orange County Faces Housing Shortfall of Over 114,000 By 2045

OCBC’S 2019-20 Workforce Housing Scorecard Details Cause of Shortfall and Which Cities Lead OC’s Housing Market

Irvine, CA – July 10, 2019 – Orange County’s jobs outnumber adequate housing nearly two-to-one, according to Orange County Business Council’s 2019-20 Orange County Workforce Housing Scorecard released on July 10, but there are significant opportunities to change course in order to bridge the gap in housing.

Presented by Dr. Wallace Walrod, OCBC’s Chief Economic Advisor, the report was unveiled to over 200 attendees at OCBC’s 2019 Workforce Housing Forum, sponsored by FivePoint Holdings, LLC, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Dr. Walrod was joined in discussion of the report by a panel of experts moderated by Steve Churm of FivePoint Holdings, including: The Honorable Lisa Bartlett, Board of Supervisors, County of Orange; Dave Bartlett, Brookfield Residential; The Honorable Trevor O’Neil, City of Anaheim; Jim Vanderpool, City of Buena Park; and Dr. Wallace Walrod, Orange County Business Council.

According to the report findings, housing supply must catch up with the demands of both population and job growth. Using data generated by each city, Orange County is an economic leader in both job creation and GDP, but is facing today a shortage of 58,000 for-sale and for-rent homes, based upon the ideal ratio of 1.5 housing units for every job. Given current development trends of only 4,000 units per year, this shortfall is likely to grow to 114,000 homes and apartments within three decades.

Orange County’s overall economic and business competitiveness risk consequences as recent skilled graduates depart due to lack of housing affordability.  Further, workers’ longer commutes to Orange County create a burden on regional transportation systems. Coupled with an aging workforce that is retiring in place, a consistently high demand for housing and high cost of living, younger residents are priced out, decreasing the county’s future talent pool.

There are opportunities to drive change, however, with Governor Newsom’s “Marshall Plan” on housing and opportunities to rethink and repurpose Orange County’s declining retail uses to incorporate housing, entertainment and retail into multi-use complexes. Looking forward, the Scorecard projects a significant change in the type of workforce housing to be built between 2016 and 2045, with new housing near job centers, commercial activity and recreational opportunities. Furthermore, higher-density housing will become more common.

The panel, representing both city and county leaders and a homebuilder, remained optimistic about the county’s ability to address these issues through public-private partnerships and increased opportunities for millennials to stay in the county. “When we are educating our young people here, we want them to stay here,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. “It’s important for government and the private sector to work together to address workforce housing and career pathways to keep young people in the county.”

“We need to think creatively to repurpose our resources and combat this issue,” said Dr. Walrod. “Orange County has an entrepreneurial spirit that has always helped us in solving major issues, and the business community is committed to working with the public sector to develop innovative solutions.”  

This is the fourth installment of the Scorecard since its inaugural release in 2008 and has proven to be a catalyst for discussions among policy leaders and stakeholders to address the region’s workforce housing accessibility. The Scorecard ranks cities in Orange County to highlight the regional leaders making strides to address the need as well as illustrate which communities are not yet succeeding to improve their jobs to housing balance.

For more information on the Scorecard, please visit https://ocbc.org/research/workforce-housing-scorecard/.

About OCBC
Orange County Business Council is the leading voice of business in Orange County, California. OCBC represents and promotes the business community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange County’s economic prosperity in order to preserve a high quality of life. In providing a proactive forum for business and supporting organizations, OCBC helps assure the financial growth of America’s sixth largest county. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Catherine Harper
Communications Manager
[email protected]

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