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 email@example.com
Californians Pass Propositions 1 and 2 – $6 Billion for Affordable and Supportive Homes
We Couldn’t Have Done It Without All Of You
From the Housing California staff and Board of Directors – we thank all of you for changing the course of California’s affordable housing future and helping us pass Props 1 and 2, a combined $6 BILLION in new funding for the development and preservation of affordable and supportive homes. Thanks to the hard work of the campaign co-leaders and coalition, our consulting team, the generous donors, the members and advocates of the Residents United Network, and partners in the field and on the ground, we won!
Voters took a stand and expressed their values on their ballots November 6 – they resoundingly said it is time to create a more equitable California in which people living on modest wages or fixed incomes and people experiencing homelessness can afford a safe, stable place to live in their communities.
“We are thrilled Props 1 and 2 passed, indicating voters recognize the need for solutions that allow every Californian equitable access to affordable, stable places to live, so that we all benefit. Communities experience greater stability, inclusivity and prosperity with better health, education and employment outcomes when we invest in affordable and supportive homes,” said Lisa Hershey, Executive Director of Housing California and co-chair of the coalition to pass Props 1 and 2.
The broad coalition was made up of more than 600 organizations, including affordable housing and equity advocates, business and labor leaders, cities and many more committed to helping Californians have safe, affordable homes and end homelessness. The campaign Executive Committee was led by four key organizations: California Housing Consortium, Housing California, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. A Steering Committee of respected leaders and organizations across many sectors also supported the campaign: Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Sen. Jim Beall, Asm. David Chiu, housing advocate Jennifer LeSar, League of California Cities, Dignity Health, Habitat for Humanity California and the Steinberg Institute.
Prop 1 will dedicate funding to build and preserve affordable and supportive housing, and provide homeowner assistance, through a variety of proven and effective programs:
- Multifamily Housing Program – $1.5 billion
- Cal-Vet Farm and Home Loan Program – $1 billion
- Infill Infrastructure Grant Financing – $300 million
- Joe Serna Jr. Farmworker Housing Grant Program – $300 million
- Local Housing Trust Match Grant Program – $300 million
- CalHome – $300 million
- CalHFA Home Purchase Assistance – $150 million
- Transit-Oriented Development Program – $150 million
The state is expected to issue its first notices of funding availability in spring 2019.
The benefits of the $4 billion from Prop 1 go well beyond the walls built. Low-income renters, especially in communities of color, have been historically locked out of building wealth because of discriminatory housing policies. The State of California provides more housing resources to wealthy homeowners than it does to low-income residents. Prop 1 is a step toward more fair and equitable state housing investment. The Advancement Project even called the housing propositions on this state ballot an opportunity for voters to tackle “one of the greatest racial injustices of our time.”
Prop 2 is equally important, providing supportive homes for our fellow Californians living with a mental illness struggling to survive on the streets or in shelters without the stability and access to services they need. With $2 billion, Prop 2 will build an additional 20,000 supportive rental homes that provide mental health services to help end homelessness for thousands of people. Homelessness advocates, doctors, mental health professionals, emergency responders, and law enforcement all agree – supportive housing works and we need it if we are to end chronic homelessness in California.
It is clear that voters want action to bring more affordable, equitable places to live and to end homelessness in their neighborhoods and communities. This is what Prop 1 and Prop 2 will begin to do and why they passed.
Housing California looks forward to working with the new administration and the legislature to continue to work on policies that will help end and prevent homelessness and provide more affordable homes for underserved Californians.
-The Housing California Team