2018 Legislative Year in Review
Did We Crack Jerry Brown?
On Sept. 30 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed his last bills ever, including bills that Housing CA supported. Just days prior, he also signed bills that Housing CA sponsored and that the Residents United Network (RUN) helped advance. These are not words we used often during Brown's tenure, but we believe that the hard work, advocacy and momentum we've built with our partners, legislative champions, members and supporters in these years of crisis made a difference. Case in point: $6 billion in investment with Props 1 and 2 on the November ballot!
The 2018 housing wins result from a desire by advocates and champions in the Capitol to address needs not met last year by the 2017 legislative housing package, like renter protections, more tools to address homelessness, and equity and displacement issues. Not all our ideas made it through, but we are on the right track and expect a busy 2019-20 session with a new administration.
The governor signed the Homeless Youth Act of 2018 (SB 918, Wiener) into law last week, giving direction and funding to the California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to set measurable goals to prevent and end youth homelessness. This is the first time a state agency has committed to assisting the more than 15,000 youth experiencing homelessness in California with an eye toward effective, permanent housing solutions. We thank author Sen. Scott Wiener and co-author Asm. Blanca Rubio, and our co-sponsors Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), Tipping Point, John Burton Advocates for Youth, Equality California, and California Coalition for Youth for daylighting the need to help our state's young people who have trouble getting access to safe, stable, affordable homes.
Brown also signed AB 2162 (Chiu) last week, allowing permanent supportive housing to be developed by-right in all multifamily and mixed-use zones. At least 25% of the units in the development or 12 units, whichever is greater, must be restricted to residents in need of supportive homes. CSH co-sponsored this bill with us. We faced political pressure to amend this bill, and Housing CA will consider strategies for expansion in the upcoming session.
He signed AB 2490 (Chiu), requiring the California Department of Public Health Vital Records to waive fees when issuing a certified copy of a birth certificate to anyone experiencing homelessness.
Brown was quick to sign Residents United Network priority bills. AB 2219 (Ting) prohibits landlords from refusing third-party rent payments, and AB 2343 (Chiu) gives renters notified of eviction three business days to respond to the notice, as opposed to the previous law of three days that included weekends and holidays. We are grateful to sponsors Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation for work on these bills, and to RUN members and partner organizations for advocating for these bills during Lobby Day in March, and storming Governor Brown's Twitter feed and getting him to sign AB 2343. #Shelterfromtherain continues to be a success!
AB 686 (Santiago), which implements a state version of the federal Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule from the Obama Administration, finally made it to Brown after a two-year process. It was one of the last bills he signed on Sept. 30.
We succeeded in moving these bills through the legislature by presenting and advocating in legislative hearings, distributing floor vote alerts, organizing legislator visits, and requesting the support of our members and partners, who responded with dozens of support letters and took the opportunity to engage lawmakers at our Lobby Day.
A look back at the budget and other investments made this year
In the final debates in each house for the Budget Act of 2018 (SB 840) in June, leaders of both houses agreed that this year's budget compromise is not perfect, and that we must build on our momentum to address one of the biggest issues hurting Californians: the lack of affordable housing and resulting increase in homelessness. Housing California supported the Senate proposal for $5 billion over the next four years toward addressing these issues. The final compromise allocated $500 million immediately toward homelessness solutions. Read our policy brief co-authored by CSH on best practices to implement these immediate funds, and check out the accompanying webinar.
More than $450 million in funding for the Strategic Growth Council’s (SGC) Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program also went out this year through the program's competitive process. Housing California and our partners in the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition continue to engage with SGC on this and other critical programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by investing in low-income communities.
Housing CA priority bills that didn’t move this session
SB 1010 (Beall) would have reduced recidivism and improve outcomes among parolees by using existing California Department of Corrections resources more effectively. It would have created a pilot to provide supportive housing to parolees who are either experiencing homelessness or were homeless when incarcerated, and have no place to go upon discharge. Housing California and partners who work on anti-recidivism, criminal justice reform, and homelessness are interested in reintroducing this bill, as well as addressing greater systemic issues within the state's criminal justice system because they so closely intersect with housing instability and racial and social equity.
AB 2161 (Chiu) would have directed the Department of Housing and Community Development to create a state homeless integrated data warehouse in coordination with the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.
SB 1125 (Atkins) would have dismantled barriers that mental health patients in California face when attempting to access comprehensive health services, by allowing their local community health center to bill Medi-Cal for mental health services and other medical services in the same day.
AB 181 (Lackey) would have increased the renters’ credit from $120 to $240 for married couples filing joint returns, heads of household, and surviving spouses if adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less (increase from $50,000), and increased the credit from $60 to $120 for individuals if adjusted gross income is $50,000 or less (up from $25,000).
AB 2784 (Caballero) would have created a pilot emergency loan program at three California State University campuses for students experiencing, or on the brink of, homelessness.
Renter protections, youth homelessness, criminal justice system reform, and health care barriers, along with a continued push for investing and planning for affordable housing development, will remain top priorities for Housing California in the upcoming legislative session. If these or other issues are of interest to you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.