California housing starts in April fell slightly from March but were up sharply compared to April 2003, indicating that demand remains strong for new homes and apartments in the state, the California Building Industry Association reported Tuesday.

A total of 13,802 building permits for single-family homes were issued in April, down 4.7 percent from March but up 16.2 percent compared to April 2003. Seasonally adjusted, the rate was down 6.4 percent from March but up 17.2 percent from the previous year.

Including multifamily units – primarily apartments but including some condominiums – housing starts totaled 17,505, down 10.1 percent from March but up 6.4 percent from April. Seasonally adjusted, the rate was down 10.6 percent from March but up 6.7 percent from April 2003.

Robert Rivinius, CBIA’s chief executive officer, said the continued strength of home-building shows the pent-up demand for housing in California has not let up.

“For the better part of two decades, new-home construction has not kept pace with population growth,” Rivinius said. “So while home builders remain on course to beginning construction on 200,000 homes and apartments this year, even that level of construction won’t be enough to meet this year’s demand, let alone catch up with a housing deficit that has been estimated at between 500,000 and 1 million units statewide.”

Rivinius noted that production hasn’t broken the 200,000 mark since 1989.

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing more than 6,000 businesses – home builders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals.


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