Despite a sizeable decline in California’s housing starts between June and July, production is still running above the year-ago pace, the California Building Industry Association reported Tuesday.

New housing units, as measured by building permits, were down 16.4 percent from June, going from 21,385 units to a total of 17,875 units in July. However, housing starts were up by a robust 8.2 percent compared to July 2004.

According to figures compiled by the Construction Industry Research Board, single-family home production dipped 17.1 percent from June to 13,658 starts in July, but that figure was 8.9 percent ahead of July 2004. Multifamily housing starts were at 4,217 units, down 14.2 percent from June but up 5.8 percent compared to last July.

The robust production so far this year increases the likelihood that total housing starts for 2005 will be near last year’s 212,960, the highest level in 15 years. But CBIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Rivinius, noting the affordability rate for homes in California continues to plummet, said production still is not keeping up with the need.

“The state’s population continues to grow by 500,000 to 600,000 people each year, so we need to be building nearly 250,000 homes a year just to keep up with demand. Until construction is able to keep up with demand, housing costs are likely to continue climbing,” Rivinius said.

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing more than 6,300 businesses comprised of home builders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, and other industry professionals.

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