When the California Legislature reconvenes in a few weeks, it will have dozens of new members, thanks to term limits and legislative districts redrawn after the 2020 census.

There is no shortage of critical issues that the Legislature, and a newly re-elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, should address but none is more important than a chronic shortage of housing. That shortage not only causes severe overcrowding, particularly in urban areas, but rents that are the primary factors in California’s highest-in the-nation poverty and homelessness rates.

Much of the political debate over housing has, for good reason, centered on the lack of affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income families. Building more of that housing is the flashpoint in the running conflict between the state and local governments.

CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California's state Capitol works and why it matters. Dan Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers.

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