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Sacramento Region’s Population Grows, but Housing Supply Struggles to Keep Up

SACRAMENTO -- New population data shows the Sacramento area is one of the fastest growing regions in California, which means some tough challenges ahead.

When Shannon Bitson moved up from Southern California 25 years ago, she did it to get away from traffic.

"There was no traffic here in Roseville," she said.

But today, it's a different story. She says her commute has doubled.

"There's more people and I think the traffic has probably doubled," Bitson said. "That's why I might move again."

Bitsen’s traffic complaint isn’t just one anecdotal story. There’s actual data that shows she’s right, but the traffic is just a symptom of a larger issue — population growth in Calfornia, especially in the Sacramento region.

"Migration numbers have been steady favoring Sacramento," Ethan Sharygin said.

Sharygin and Doug Kuczynski, both from the California Department of Finance, have spent the last five months collecting population data from across the state.

They have found Sacramento's population grew nearly 1.5 percent from the last year, the highest percentage of any major city in the state. Placer and El Dorado counties were both among counties with the highest population growth, as well.

All of this brings challenges to the region. Most notably -- not enough housing.

"It’s not able to keep up with where the population is growing," Kuczynski said.

Kucynski says unlike the Bay Area, those moving to the Sacramento region are looking for houses -- not apartments.

Places like Roseville and Rocklin added around 900 housing units each, but that still doesn't keep up with demand.

"We're not building as fast as we'd like to to meet internal demand," Chris Norem, who represents hundreds of builders in the region, told FOX40.

Norem says because of a shortage of labor, home builders are only meeting about 20 percent of housing demand.

“I think it’s just planning for that future that we all know is coming," Norem said. "There’s gonna be more people here. How do we work together."

And answering that question has proven to be difficult for lawmakers so far.

"They need to sit at the lights at rush hour," Bitsen said. "They’d go back to the drawing board."