Assembly Democrats Unveil Plan to Address Housing Affordability Crisis, Alleviate Poverty
Proposal for more than $1.3 billion for FY 2016-17 Budget would address challenges ranging from homelessness to homeownership
Sacramento, CA – More than a dozen members of the Democratic Assembly Caucus today unveiled a plan that would deliver relief to California families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing rents. In a letter to Assembly Budget Subcommittee 4 Chair Asm. Adrin Nazarian, the caucus members, led by Housing Committee Chair Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Asm. Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), proposed more than $1.3 billion to stabilize families after median rents have soared by 20 percent since 2008, while median incomes have dropped by 8 percent. “Californians cannot wait,” they wrote. “Immediate action is needed...in this budget year to address our housing crisis.”
“California’s housing affordability crisis tarnishes the promise of our great state, exacerbating traffic congestion, climate change and income inequality,” said Asm. Chiu. “As chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, I am proud to work with my colleagues to prioritize a comprehensive approach that will help Californians who are homeless, struggling to pay the rent, and trying to buy their first home.”
“California has failed to deliver adequate and affordable housing options to our residents for too many years,” said Asm. Thurmond. “This funding request will benefit families across the state; both rural and urban Californians, with rental and home ownership needs. This is the first step towards ensuring that families can have a better quality of life by providing affordable options in the neighborhoods where they work.”
“California has some of the least affordable communities in the nation, with too many Californians unable to live where they work, and too many others seeing their monthly budgets eaten up by housing costs,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). “Increasing affordable housing is good for kids, good for jobs and good for state and local budgets.”
State and federal funding for the development and preservation of affordable homes has plummeted by 79 percent since the elimination of redevelopment agencies in 2012 and the exhaustion of state housing bonds. The result is a $1.7 billion per year loss in state startup money that leverages federal matching dollars and private loans necessary to make affordable developments feasible. While other critical state programs that were cut during the Great Recession have since been restored, affordable housing funds are not among them. When housing costs are factored in, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
The Assembly Democrats’ plan represents a one-time budget investment in five priority areas to meet the range of housing needs for working, lower-income families and Californians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
- Rental housing for lower income working families;
- Homeownership opportunities and rental housing for working families;
- Affordable housing for rural California, including for farmworkers and their families;
- Seismic retrofitting of “soft-story” homes; and
- Housing assistance and production for homeless individuals and their families.
The attached letter contains a full breakdown of the spending proposal.
The Assemblymembers present noted that while ongoing investment is needed to address a housing affordability crisis that leaves 1.5 million families without a secure place to call home, a one-time investment of surplus funds in this year’s budget is a sound investment for California that will reduce the future costs of homelessness and healthcare. What’s more, with the poorest 25 percent of Californians spending more than two-thirds of their income on housing, creating affordable places to live is a crucial step toward reducing poverty.
A hearing on the budget proposal has been requested for May.