(Photo Credit: Andrew Dunn/Wikimedia)
Democrats in the Assembly outlined a strategy this week for working toward the California Economic Summit’s One Million Homes Challenge, unveiling a new $1.3 billion budget package aimed at producing more affordable housing across the state.
The targeted spending plan offers a range of ideas that should be part of a comprehensive solution to the state’s growing housing crisis—an effort outlined in the Summit’s 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity which aims to produce more housing for low-income Californians while also increasing the supply of market-rate housing for middle-income families, as well.
The Assembly package focuses on the first piece of this puzzle, with most funding targeted at rental housing for low-income families and supportive services for the homeless. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, said the package could produce about 25,000 housing units. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the state needs to build about 100,000 more units each year than are being built today to keep pace with rising demand.
More than a dozen lawmakers joined Chiu in signing a statement highlighting the urgency of the housing crisis—and the need to take action in this year’s budget to address an issue that has widespread implications for economic growth and environmental quality. “Californians cannot wait. Immediate action is needed,” Assembly Democrats said, noting that median rents have jumped 20 percent in the years since the Great Recession, while wages have remained stagnant. “We need to make a strategic investment in this budget year to address our housing crisis.”
Several housing leaders who are working with the Summit to seek long-term solutions to California’s growing housing issues offered their support for the Assembly Democrats package, while also highlighting the need to develop fiscal, land use, and regulatory incentives that can increase the supply of all types of housing—and reduce housing costs for all Californians.
Summit leaders on the Assembly Dems housing plan
Ray Pearl, co-lead of the Summit’s Housing Action Team and executive director of the California Housing Consortium: “This plan recognizes that our state’s housing affordability crisis is hurting California businesses and sending California jobs out of state. California’s affordable home developers are ready to deploy this much-needed investment to put affordable homes within reach of the state’s neediest individuals and families, create jobs, and strengthen communities.”
Matt Schwartz, president & CEO, California Housing Partnership: “[We] applaud the Assembly’s leadership in proposing a major new state investment in affordable homes for California’s low-income workers, seniors and families. This proposed one-time investment from the state’s current budget surplus is a fiscally conservative yet meaningful step toward addressing the housing needs of the 1.5 million California households that are either homeless or struggling to pay rent.”
Shamus Roller, executive director of Housing California: “California's housing-affordability crisis is a solvable problem, but not a simple problem. It requires a number of complementary policy solutions. Too many families and individuals will always remain priced out of our ownership and rental market, which is why state investment in affordable development is imperative. Housing California fully supports state investment to make housing more affordable to the individuals and families who are struggling the most.”
Richard Lyon, senior vice president, California Building Industry Association: “Despite low mortgage rates and more positive signs for job and income growth, California continues to see housing costs soar – a result of supply failing to keep pace with demand. In this environment, affordability is a key concern. California homebuilders are pleased to support the effort today to ensure the state makes a small down payment in the housing needs of its residents. Though more needs to be done, this will give California housing markets a much needed boost.”