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As the country struggles with meeting housing demand, the federal government looks for ways to help create solutions - enter a new Office of Housing Innovation. Will it be able to launch? And, will it solve the challenges ahead?

As housing costs spiral up faster than worker incomes, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier thinks federal housing policy could use a shot of Silicon Valley innovation.

The Concord Democrat has introduced a bill to create a new federal Office of Housing Innovation to provide grants across the country for local housing plans, oversee pilot projects for housing development and foster community discussions about smart planning and growth.

The proposal comes as housing prices continue to set records in California and climb in many parts of the country. While other regions are not yet at Bay Area extremes, DeSaulnier said working families across the nation are running out of affordable housing options, making commutes longer and pushing the country to the brink of a housing crisis.

“Policy makers have to understand the urgency of now,” he said.

The Office of Housing Innovation would have a $100 million annual budget to create and manage grants to local governments, universities and nonprofits seeking to grow and diversify housing supply.

Lack of supply in California is the major driver to record-setting prices. The Bay Area created about six times as many jobs as new housing units between 2010 and 2015, according to a study by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Median home prices in the region have soared past $1 million in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

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