CA Legislators Looking at $10B Bond Measure to Add Affordable Housing

California legislators are considering a bond measure for the March 2024 ballot that would provide $10 billion for the state’s affordable housing programs.

The Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development today was to review Assembly Bill 1657, the Affordable Housing Bond of 2024, proposed by Oakland Democrat Buffy Wicks.

AB 1657 would authorize $10 billion in general obligation bonds to provide funding for affordable rental housing for lower income families, homeownership opportunities, and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.

The $10 billion distribution would include $5.25 billion to the Multi-Family Housing Program, $1.75 billion to supportive housing administered, $1 billion for programs to preserve or rehabilitate existing rental housing, $1 billion to the CalHOME Program and the My Home down payment assistance program, and $500 million to the Joe Serna Junior Farmworker Housing Program.

“We can’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to our state’s affordable housing investments,” Wicks said in a statement. “Now is the time to double down on our commitment to solving California’s housing shortage. Even in a tight fiscal climate, the staggering need demands that we treat the crisis with the urgency it deserves.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed funding for community behavioral health beds in residential settings to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders.

“Although some individuals struggle with substance abuse or mental illness, a growing number of people fall into homelessness due to a mismatch between wages and housing costs,” Wicks said.

The Assembly member said One in three households in the state does not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Her proposed Affordable Housing Bond Act would fund affordable housing for people who do not have mental health or substance abuse disorders, but just need an affordable home. The bond would also include supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness and wraparound services to maintain housing.

According to the Statewide Housing Plan, California still needs an additional 2.5 million housing units – including 1.2 million for lower-income households – to meet the state’s unmet housing needs. Decades of underbuilding have led to a lack of housing overall, particularly housing that is affordable to lower-income households.

California needs an additional 180,000 new units of housing a year to keep up with demand – including about 80,000 units of housing affordable to lower-income households. Production in the past decade has been fewer than 100,000 units per year – including fewer than 20,000 units of affordable housing.

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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