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California Dream

Traffic sign of CA interstate 1 highway.

You became a Californian because someone in your family believed in a dream. A strong public education. The promise of a job. The weather. (Ahhh, the weather.) In its long history, the California Dream has meant different things to different people. Today, the state’s identity is in marked contrast to the rest of the country. The dream may still be alive, but it’s challenged at every corner.

What does it mean today?

KPBS and mission-driven media organizations around the state will explore the California Dream starting this year. Reporters and producers will tell the personal stories and discuss the ideas that make up the history, future and current state of the California Dream.

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What Half a Million Buys You Around California (And How It Shapes Where We Move)

May 22
Matt Levin / CALmatters

The median price of a California single-family home is now well over half a million dollars. That’s more than double what the average house costs in the rest of the U.S.

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Only City In California To Solve Veteran Homelessness Is On A Mission To Go Bigger

May 10
By Amita Sharma

The city of Riverside is the only one in the state to place all of its veterans in permanent housing, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

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Five Reasons California’s Housing Costs Are So High, With Charts and Graphs

May 3
Matt Levin / CALmatters

Why are California housing costs so high? At its most basic level, it’s a story of supply and demand — lots of people want to live here, and there aren’t enough homes to go around.

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California’s GOP Has ‘Hit The Iceberg.’ Can It Be Saved?

April 23
Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

With the June primary approaching, there is a fight underway for the identity of the California Republican Party.

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How California Car Culture Killed The Promise Of A 20-Minute Commute

April 16
Meghan McCarty Carino/KPCC

As an innovator and early adopter of freeways, California became the symbolic capital of car culture. But the ease of movement conferred by the massive postwar freeway building boom was short-lived, turning the dream of car travel into a nightmare of congestion and long commutes.

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Ice Cream And Culture: How The California Dream Evolves

April 13
Elizabeth Aguilera/CALmatters

What, if anything, does it mean for the California dream when the population changes? Despite generational and cultural differences, most people seek a version of the same dream.

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An MBA, Three Part-Time Jobs And Still Struggling To Pay For Housing In California

April 12
By Amita Sharma

California doesn't keep track of how many of the state's 134,000 homeless people work and still cannot afford a stable living situation, but KPBS caught up with an MBA graduate who works multiple jobs but lives between his car and rented rooms.

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California Farmworkers Face Slow Climb To Upward Mobility

March 30
Julia Mitric/Capital Public Radio Julia Mitric/Capital Public Radio

Today, 90 percent of California’s farmworkers hail from Mexico and half that population lack documents for legal residence, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey.

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Thousands Of College Hopefuls Could Leave California — And Never Come Back

March 23
Vanessa Rancano/KQED

High school seniors across the state are waiting on news that will shape the rest of their lives. This month they find out whether they are among the thousands being admitted to the University of California or California State University.

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Hey, UC Grads: Could You Get Into Your Alma Mater Today?

March 23
Adriene Hill/KQED

It’s the 150th anniversary of the University of California system. UC promises a space for California students who are in the top 9 percent of high school graduates — but many are unable to get into their schools of choice. We take a look at the ever-toughening standards at UCLA.

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How California Went From Anti-Immigration To ‘Sanctuary State’

March 19
Farida Jhabvala Romero/KQED

The current debate over immigration policies in the state has a striking resemblance to the experience of many people who fought the approval of Prop. 187, which sought to stem the influx of undocumented immigrants and their access to publicly funded services.

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Where You Grow Up May Affect How Well You Climb The Income Ladder

March 16
By Amita Sharma

Stanford University economist Raj Chetty says childhood environment can determine social mobility for adults.

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California’s Middle Class Is In Decline, Despite The State’s Immense Wealth

March 15
By Amita Sharma

California’s $2.75 trillion economy makes it the world’s sixth largest and is a source of pride for the state but that impressive ranking disguises an economic fault-line: The decline of the middle class.

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Risk Takers Still See Golden Opportunities In California

March 9
David Wagner/KPCC

A sawmill worker discovers gold along the American River near Sacramento in 1848. Soon more than 300,000 people rush to California, eager to take big risks in the hopes of getting rich quick.

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How The Home Of Reagan Turned Into The Trump Resistance

March 1
Ben Bradford/Capital Public Radio

With more than two dozen lawsuits against the federal administration and new laws designed to thwart federal immigration actions and environmental rollbacks, California has squarely established itself as the Democratic resistance to President Donald Trump.