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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

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



At what he called "probably the biggest bill signing" he's ever seen, Governor Jerry Brown signed 15 bills into law September 29, 2017 to address the needs of Californians most impacted by our state's housing catastrophe. The historic event in San Francisco brought together champion legislators and allies.  Housing California Executive Director Lisa Hershey represented the affordable housing community, the Residents United Network, and advocacy partners.

"We are all ready for progress," Hershey said. "We look forward to building on our momentum with state leaders, community champions, and most importantly, our residents, who made the real difference in getting this legislature to hear them and take action on the top issue facing Californians today."


It is now up to us to act on these new laws. Affordable and supportive housing developers will have the opportunity to create and preserve homes statewide using funds from SB 2. Voters and organizers must start the campaign now to pass a $4 billion housing

bond (SB 3) in 2018. We must all contact our local governments and work together to reinstate or create inclusionary zoning ordinances

(AB 1505). And, we must continue to monitor localities to ensure proper implementation of housing elements (SB 166, AB 72, AB 1397, and more).



Budget Success for Homelessness

$2 billion for the No Place Like Home (NPLH) initiative. No Place Like Home includes funding for the "Bringing Families Home" pilot program, which would provide housing assistance to families whose children remain in the foster-care system solely due to the parents' lack of stable housing. An estimated one-third of the children in foster care could be reunited with their families if their families could afford a stable place to live. Housing California advocated for $10 million for the first year in order to ensure success of the pilot program. Housing California also:​

  • Assisted Senate pro Tem’s office in language for the California Emergency Solutions Grants Program, which secured $35 million for rapid re-housing and street outreach.​​

  • Assisted in increasing by $12 million (to a total of $47 million) CalWORKS Housing Support Program and creating Housing and Disability Advocacy Program, with $45 million, to enroll people in SSI and get them housed​.



AB 801: Success for Homeless Youth in Higher Education (Bloom) requires public universities to give priority admission preferences to students who are homeless in the same way that foster youth receive a preference. 


AB 1760: Decriminalize Youth Victims of Trafficking for Sex Work (Santiago & Liu) stops the senseless criminalization of trafficked minors for sex work or non-violent crimes related to trafficking victims by granting them immunity from prosecution. It also creates an interagency working group to develop a state plan to serve and protect sexually exploited and trafficked minors that incorporates developing specialized supportive services.​


AB 1995: Community College Shower Access for Homeless Students (Williams) requires community college campuses that have shower facilities for students to grant access to those facilities to any student that presents as homeless, who is enrolled in coursework, has paid enrollment fees, and is in good standing.​


AB 2346: Better Access to Social Services Hearings 'Statement of Positions' (Baker) creates better access to county "Statements of Positions" and improves individuals' ability to represent themselves in hearings by making the statements available in an electronic format, online, at least two days prior to a hearing.​​

Affordable Housing Land Use and Finance

AB 2031: Boomerang Bond (Bonta) gives cities the authority to approve issuance of bonds for affordable development that will be paid for with any portion of its "boomerang funds" without voter approval. There is no fiscal impact to the state's General Fund and no property taxes would be diverted from the other taxing entities.​


AB 2501: Strengthen Density Bonus Law (Bloom) addresses a number of vague provisions of Density Bonus law and strengthens Density Bonus incentives. It clarifies that the legislative intent of the law is to encourage the development of affordable apartments and that the incentives provided for in the law are available "by right" to housing providers who include affordable apartments. This law ensures that local governments process Density Bonus applications quickly and efficiently, creates certainty that inaction by a city or county will not delay their proposed housing development, clarifies that applicants for a density bonus do not need to provide financial justifications for the incentives they're requesting, and increases certainty regarding the number of additional apartments a developer gets to build as a result of the density increase. It also limits cities' and counties' ability to impose additional requirements on Density Bonus developers that are intended to block development, for example design and size limitations that make inclusion of affordable apartments infeasible.​


SB 873: Increase Value of State Housing Tax Credit (Beall) eliminates the state housing tax credit's "ownership" requirement, thereby increasing the value of every housing tax credit that investors purchase. This increase in value of every state housing tax credit purchased incentivizes investment in state tax credits, which in turn supports the development of much-needed affordable apartments for Californians priced out of the rental market.​


Past Successes


  • Housing California initiated a successful partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to reduce recidivism rates and assist persons with mental illness who are exiting correctional facilities through a $10 million/year allocation from the department's existing budget to provide supportive services. These services 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.


Affordable Housing Land Use and Finance

  • Housing California led the campaign that passed landmark legislation in 2006, winning $2.85 billion for affordable homes. 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.

Climate Change

  • 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 a leading voice for socially equitable implementation of the law and creating new housing opportunities for Californians with the most modest budgets. This includes influencing and assisting in the creation of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, and the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program. Housing California co-created the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition, a multi-sector group that has been instrumental in the creation and continued advocacy for these and other GHG reduction programs.