Despite the fact that Governor Jerry Brown signed fifteen bills last year aimed at addressing California’s housing crisis, the state legislature has continued to propose numerous bills to facilitate more affordable housing development throughout the state. Members have introduced language to address issues, which include, but are not limited to the following: the use of public “surplus land” for affordable housing (AB 2065), streamlining the permitting process for Ancillary Dwelling Units, tax increment financing, opportunity zones, and inclusionary housing/high density bonuses. Although all Habitat for Humanity affiliates may not directly benefit from every bill we are supporting, ALL of these measures promote policies and systems to increase access to adequate, affordable housing for people throughout California.
Two most notable and controversial measures introduced earlier this year are SB 827 (Weiner) and AB 3037 (Chiu). SB 827 is already adamantly opposed by the League of Cities, because it eliminates development restrictions within a half-mile of major transit lines to address the state’s housing shortage. AB 3037 (Chiu) would recreate a version of the program formerly known as “redevelopment” that set aside billions of dollars in property taxes each year for local economic development and affordable housing. As many of you may recall, Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers eliminated redevelopment agencies in 2011, during the depths of the state’s budget crisis, arguing that it was too costly and full of abuses, such as financing upgrades to luxury golf courses.
AB 2922 (Gipson), Habitat for Humanity California’s sponsored bill is in print. As a result of our advocacy day in January, several co-authors representing districts throughout the state have signed on with bi-partisan support. This program is modeled after the successful program in Florida. It establishes a new tax credit program for homeownership projects in California and will be administered by the California Housing Finance Authority. Put simply, the credit will be issued to the project/developer and the developer will be responsible for finding the corporate or individual donor to contribute to the project and received the tax credits. This program will sunset in five years and it is capped at $5 million annually.
Two bills, introduced this year by Assembly members Steinorth and Bonta, create homeownership savings accounts. Like health savings accounts or 529 college saving accounts, these savings plans would allow employees to save tax-deferred money annually that could be used in the future for qualified purchases such as a down payment towards a home purchase.
Finally, Habitat for Humanity California is supporting a few measures introduced by Senator Glazer that are aimed at streamlining the California Environmental Quality Act and reducing costs for housing projects (SB 1296, SB 1340, and SB 1341).
Please take a moment to review the current list of bills we are intending to support this year. It is also important to note that our advocates in Sacramento are tracking over 50 bills that may impact our housing projects, construction costs, and taxation issues too. We will update you with further details on all of these measures and our positions on each throughout the legislative process.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about legislation or notify us of any other measures you would like the SSO to consider taking a formal position on this year.