PRESS RELEASE: Senators Beall, McGuire and Portantino Renew Affordable Housing Construction Effort.

January 06, 2020

SACRAMENTO - Today Senators Beall, McGuire and Portantino introduced SB 795 a bill to increase the production of affordable housing units in California. In midst of homeless crisis, state must fund production efforts aimed at low and very-low income Californians.

Last year, the State Legislature successfully passed SB 5 (Beall, McGuire, Portantino) to increase affordable housing production. The bill focused around a strategic proposal that ramps up over time and can be suspended during economic downturns. The bill had a broad coalition of supporters. Today, the bill was reintroduced as SB 795 by the same Senate trio along with a host of coauthors and a new cosponsor.

“I am proud to announce the State Building Trades Council as our sponsor. Their subject matter expertise and experience is much welcomed. They bring real life stories of how the housing crisis is impacting communities and how SB 795 will benefit communities and workers,” said Sen. Beall.

 “Economic inequality across California is forcing workers into two or three jobs just to keep from being homeless. We are proud to stand with Senator Beall in his relentless pursuit to increase funding for affordable housing production targeted towards the working class who so desperately need and deserve relief,” added Cesar Diaz of the California State Building Trades Council.

Last year’s housing efforts, mirrored previous efforts in terms of funding and strategy. Despite significant multi-billion dollar, one-time investments as well as the establishment of penalties for negligent cities, California’s homeless population rose again last year.

While some are concerned that there may not be a solution to this crisis, Beall remains optimistic. “This crisis absolutely can be solved but it can’t be done overnight, and cities can’t be expected to do it alone,” continued Beall. “We need to be smarter, more strategic about our investments and housing policies. A city-state partnership for production must be part of the solution.”

The state has made significant investments in emergency and temporary shelter to the tune of over a billion dollars over the last two fiscal years. California also passed legislation to streamline and make the building permitting process easier for developers. However, what has been missing from these efforts is an on-going state commitment to quickly build affordable housing units to keep up with demand. While the investment in low-income tax credits and infrastructure grant program will accelerate production, it is only a one-off effort and falls far short in comparison to the need.

The lack of affordable housing units is driving the homeless epidemic. There are 2.2 million extremely low-income and very low-income renter households competing for only 664,000 affordable renter homes. This leaves more than 1.54 million of California’s lowest income families without access to housing and at high risk for homelessness.

“In communities throughout the state, cities simply do not have enough affordable housing available to low- and very- low income households,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities, a key supporter of SB 795. “What we need now is a long-term funding commitment that matches the scale of this crisis that has been decades in the making. The League will continue to work with a broad coalition of labor, local government, business, housing and other advocates to advance this bill in 2020.”

“We need to put our money where our mouth is and make the ongoing investments cities need to build homes, not band-aides,” added Beall.

SB 5, and now SB 795, were written in response to the need to recreate an on-going state fund source with the sole purpose of tackling the current affordable housing crisis with the state and cities partnering once again to build affordable housing units. SB 5 bill was thoroughly vetted, undergoing a rigorous legislative review process of six committees, and the bill was amended nine times. Governor Newsom vetoed the measure based on fiscal concerns, however affordable housers agree we will never come close to reach the 3.5 million unit housing goal without a city-state partnership investment.

Michael Lane, Deputy Director of Silicon Valley at Home said “SB 795 will forge a critical state-local partnership and powerful new tool to help cities ramp up the production of much-needed new affordable housing. The bill represents a strategic and targeted approach to providing exactly the type of investment needed in order to finance more affordable housing and the related infrastructure that makes it possible.” 

The solution to homelessness is a home. We need an on-going funding source to help local communities if we are serious about addressing this crisis,” added Beall.  

If you would like to speak to Senator Beall or have a question, call Sunshine Borelli 408-391-8834.