Governor Newsom set the bar high conveying his intent to transform California’s struggling housing and homelessness landscape. His administration worked closely with the Legislature and housing advocates to make unprecedented things happen in 2019.
Beyond the landmark $2.7 billion for housing and homelessness in that year’s budget, Housing California also celebrated legislative wins, including much needed renter protections that moved us closer to our vision of Homes for All.
SB 329 (Mitchell), which Housing California sponsored, the Residents United Network supported, and Governor Newsom signed into law, was the beginning of a major shift towards racial and housing justice in California. Black, brown, indigenous, and immigrant Californians have borne the burden of historical housing discrimination but Housing California and our allies came together to fight that injustice. This bill ensured that everyone using housing assistance to find a home is treated with dignity.
The Year of Housing and Homelessness
Early in the 2019-2020 legislative cycle, Housing California sponsored SB 329 (Mitchell), a bill that would prohibit discrimination against voucher holders by adding vouchers to the list of acceptable sources of income. Shepherding SB 329 through the gauntlet of legislative committees, Housing California collaborated with a coalition of housing advocates to secure its survival and safe passage. In October of 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the proposal, making it illegal to reject a prospective tenant solely based on the applicant’s use of a Section 8 federal housing voucher. This critical legislation, co-sponsored by Western Center on Law and Poverty, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, the National Housing Law Project, the California Association of Housing Authorities, and Los Angeles County, paved the way for greater access for people with housing vouchers of all kinds and a more equitable system of access. Throughout 2019, Housing California had been successfully working with legislators, equity partners, and housing advocates to lay the groundwork for what was shaping up to be the year of housing production in California as we approached 2020.
The Budget Summary reflects the state’s priorities at this point in time. Our bullet point summary highlights investments California made towards addressing homelessness and housing insecurity. The state provided funds for Project Homekey, local governments, Low Income Housing Tax Credits and various support services and programs.
At the end of legislative cycle
SB 329 (Mitchell) Discrimination: Housing: Source of Income: Passed
The bill bans blanket policies against taking Section 8 applicants and requires landlords to treat voucher-holders like any other applicant. The law also prohibits “No Section 8” advertisements. It amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include Section 8 and other housing assistance vouchers within California’s prohibition on discrimination based on source of income.
AB 10 (Chiu) Expanding the California Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Did not pass
We achieved a huge win with Assemnblymember Chiu and our co-sponsors by getting Governor Newsom to include the $500 million expansion of the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program in his 2019 budget. Our work will continue in 2020 and beyond to make this expansion continuous. (Land Use and Finance)
AB 67 (Luz Rivas) Homeless Integrated Data Warehouse
This bill would have required the Department of Housing and Community Development to create a state homeless integrated data warehouse, in coordination with the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council, to develop a composite portrayal of the homeless population in the state and the services provided to this population or to those at risk of becoming homeless.
AB 816 (Quirk-Silva) Flexible Housing Program
This proposal would have created a systems change in which the state would combine some existing and some new programs to create a Flexible Housing Program administered by HCD. This program would have provided rental assistance, operating subsidies, services, systems funding, and interim housing (capped at 20%) to cities, counties, and Continuums of Care.
SB 282 (Beall) Supportive Housing for People on Parole Experiencing Homelessness
This bill would have created a grant program for counties to provide supportive housing for people on parole. The county would commit to providing Medi-Cal mental health treatment. This way, counties would apply and commit to providing housing and services to this population long term, while drawing in federal resources.
SB 361 (Mitchell) Health Home Program Clean-Up
This bill would have ensured that in California Health Home Program funds services to help Medi-Cal beneficiaries experiencing chronic homelessness to access housing stability. This clean-up legislation would have removed language around restricting state funding and also require health plans to implement benefits in ways that would make the program more meaningful.
AB 307 (Reyes) Homeless Youth Grant Program
This bill would have created a competitive grant program to address the needs of youth experiencing homelessness. In our budget request, we included $100 million in ongoing funding for this program. The grant program would have been administered by the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council.
ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) Affordable Housing and Public Infrastructure Voter Approval
This constitutional amendment would place on the November 2020 ballot an initiative to reduce the local vote threshold from two-thirds to 55% for approval of bond and special tax measures to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of infrastructure, including homes affordable to households earning up to 150% of the area median income.
SCA 1 (Allen) Repeal Article 34
This constitutional amendment would repeal Article 34 of the California Constitution, which requires local voters to approve the development of homes affordable to lower income households.
Support Bills that Passed
SB 6 (Beall) Residential Development: Available Land
SB 9 (Beall) Low-income Housing Tax Credits: (Governor’s 2019 budget)
AB 58 (Rivas) Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council
SB 389 (Hertzberg) Mental Health Services Act
AB 761 (Nazarian) State Armories for Shelters
AB 1197 (Santiago) California Environmental Quality Act
AB 1255 (R. Rivas and Ting) Surplus Public Land Inventory
AB 1482 (Chiu) Tenant Protection Act of 2019
AB 1486 (Ting) Public Surplus Land for Affordable Housing
AB 1783 (Rivas) Agricultural Employee Housing Development
Support Bills that Did Not Pass
SB 5 (Beall) Affordable Housing and Community Development Investment Program: Vetoed by the Governor
AB 36 (Bloom) Rent Control
AB 67 (Rivas) Homeless Integrated Data Warehouse
AB 1279 (Bloom) Exclusionary Communities
AB 1405 (Gloria) Permanent Supportive Homes for People on Parole
AB 1481 (Grayson) Just Cause Evictions
AB 1702 (Rivas) Homelessness: Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council: Vetoed by the Governor
AB 1763 (Chiu) Density Bonus
SB 48 (Wiener) Interim Housing Intervention Developments
SB 333 (Wilk) Statewide Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness: Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council: Held