Housing California is the voice in the state Capitol for children, seniors, families, people experiencing homelessness, and everyone who needs a safe, stable affordable place to call home.
Since 1988, Housing California has been working to prevent homelessness and increase the variety and supply of safe, stable, accessible, and permanently affordable places to live. Housing California staff accomplishes its goals through education, advocacy, and outreach.
We are on the ground in the state Capitol, with access to those in power.
Housing California is the go-to organization for decision makers on housing and homeless policy and legislation. We meet directly with legislators and their staff members — those with the power to create and pass laws that have widespread, long-term stabilizing impacts on California's housing market. We support laws that make it easier for affordable homes to be built; our work results in greater variety and supply in the housing market and connects more Californians to communities of opportunity.
We are the voice in the Capitol for everyone who needs an affordable place to live, including:
||Former foster youth
College students and recent college grads
|Emergency Medical Technicians
Young families starting out
||Woman and children escaping domestic violence
||People with disabilities
|Barbers and hairstylists
||People on fixed incomes
||Small business owners
||People on modest budgets
. . . just to name a few!
No other advocacy organization in the state is positioned to have the impact of Housing California in increasing the number of homes affordable to Californians on fixed incomes and modest budgets.
So, what exactly do we do in the Capitol?
Housing California educates lawmakers and others who have the power to stabilize the housing market; create more housing opportunities; and implement proven solutions that reduce the number of homeless men, women, and children in our communities. We help legislators and their staff members understand the impacts of various proposed legislation and how these bills will impact Californians on fixed incomes and modest budgets.
We focus on three issue areas:
- Land Use: Influencing where homes are built; making sure land is used efficiently.
- Budget and Funding: Increasing/protecting public investment that spurs private investment in affordable places to live.
- Homelessness: Improving outcomes for programs that prevent and end homelessness and increasing/protecting funding for innovative, cost-effective, and proven solutions.
We focus on housing/homeless legislation that:
- Creates widespread, long-term improvements that uplift communities and connect more Californians to communities of opportunity.
- Increases government efficiency. We are helping to connect the various government bodies working to address homelessness, so they can collaborate and become more successful. We are working with legislators to show them proven solutions that are increasing the variety and supply of housing and addressing homelessness, so they can focus on funding programs that work.
- Increases (and protects) funding and resources for builders of affordable homes, homeless shelter and service providers, and other organizations that work to increase the variety and supply in the housing market.
- Creates more opportunities for Californians from all walks of life.
We reinforce our efforts in the Capitol by . . .
- Educating and training homebuilders, nonprofit developers, homeless shelter and service providers, the mental-health community, and advocates at our Annual Conference (the nation's largest annual conference on affordable homes and homelessness!).
- Building and strengthening partnerships and coalitions with others who care about home affordability and homeless issues.
- Listening to our members, donors, and supporters and leveraging their experience; new, creative ideas; and expertise to maximize our impact in the state Legislature, which then benefits their own communities.
Budget and Funding
- Housing California led the campaign that passed landmark legislation in 2006, winning $2.85 billion for affordable homes (the largest in the nation's history). To date, this state investment spurred an additional $8 billion in additional private and other investment (helping the economy); created between 50,000 - 80,000 jobs (helping hardworking Californians); and, built or preserved nearly 42,000 well-designed, attractive, and affordable places to live (helping vulnerable people and people on modest budgets).
- In late 2008, skyrocketing foreclosure rates flooded the rental market with former homeowners looking for affordable rental homes. At the same time, California entered yet another budget crisis. As a result, voter-approved bond funds for affordable homes were frozen by the Pooled Money Investment Board, which is comprised of California's Treasurer, Controller, and Director of Finance. Though necessary, their action put hundreds of affordable homes at risk (some built, some under construction, and many not even started) and jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in additional private investment required to make affordable homebuilding financially viable. Housing California immediately sprang into action and joined forces to lead nonprofit developers and lenders in convincing the Pooled Money Investment Board to unfreeze $1.8 billion in bond funding. As a direct result, hundreds of stalled housing developments were able to move forward.
- Housing California initiated a successful partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to create a win-win for the department (which seeks to reduce recidivism rates) and for persons with mental illness who are exiting correctional facilities. After the urging of Housing California, the department began allocating $10 million/year from its existing budget to help provide "supportive services" to persons with mental illness. These services include psychiatric services, help with medication and life-skills classes and are an important component in ensuring that people with mental illnesses remain stable and successful within their community. This win by Housing California will also avoid future costs in more expensive government systems; once stabilized, these individuals avoid cycling through the expensive corrections system and high-cost emergency rooms. (Housing California continues to advocate for funding the most important piece of the supportive services solution: permanent, affordable places to live.)
- As a direct result of Housing California's work in the state Capitol, increased awareness about homelessness led to annual hearings for the past four years. These hearings provided new opportunities to inform legislators about the challenges in addressing homelessness, and more importantly, about the importance of funding proven solutions. Legislators and their staff members now consult with Housing California to shape hearing agendas and find knowledgeable witnesses.
- Housing California played a lead role in designing the state's Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Housing Program, which stabilizes living situations for Californians who have mental-health issues. Housing California made sure that the program was designed to include funds that developers could add to their complicated array of sources necessary to build affordable homes, but also made sure that funds to operate the developments and keep people stable in their homes (funding for things such as psychiatric services, help with medication, and life-skills classes) were included. Housing California also helped spread the word about the program, so developers and those who provide stabilizing "supportive services" could apply for funding and create these much needed "supportive home" developments.
- The nation was watching in 2008, when California passed the first law in the United States designed to control greenhouse gas emissions through better planning of land uses (where homes are built) and convenient, affordable transportation options. Throughout the drafting of this law (Senate Bill 375), Housing California had a seat at the table and negotiated substantial changes, which included enforcing deadlines for local governments to zone land for affordable-home development and implementing housing programs. Since the passage of Senate Bill 375, Housing California has served as the leading voice for socially equitable implementation of the law and creating new housing opportunities for Californians with the most-modest budgets.
- Housing California partnered with the Planning and Conservation League, a leading environmental organization, to influence the design of the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program. This state program provides funding that helps homebuilders make smart land-use choices by building on unused and underutilized land within existing urban areas. As a result, more open space is preserved, resources are focused in areas where people already live, population growth is accommodated, and cities are redesigned to be environmentally and socially sustainable. Housing California's partnership with the Planning and Conservation League resulted in a program that encourages the development of compact and affordable places to live.
- Home is the foundation for life.
- Opportunity and success begins at home.
- Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a community he/she is proud to call home.
- In order for men, women, and children to reach their full potential, they need a safe, stable,
affordable place to live.
- Communities thrive when people have access to safe, stable, affordable places to live,
close to good jobs and good schools, near grocery stores and transportation options.
- Building a variety of quality, affordable places to live in every community will strengthen
California's housing market and provide those on fixed incomes and modest budgets more
choices in where they can live.