Proposal for more than $1.3 billion in the FY 2016-17 budget would address challenges ranging from homelessness to homeownership
SACRAMENTO – More than a dozen members of the Democratic Assembly Caucus today unveiled a plan that would deliver relief to California families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing rents and home mortgages in California. In a letter to Assembly Budget Subcommittee 4 Chair Assemblymember Adrian Nazarian, the caucus members led by Housing Committee Chair Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) proposed more than $1.3 billion to stabilize families and help with their housing situation.
State and federal funding for the development and preservation of affordable homes has plummeted by 79 percent since the elimination of redevelopment agencies in 2012 and the exhaustion of the state housing bonds. The result is a $1.7 billion per year loss in state startup money that leverages federal matching dollars and private loans necessary to make affordable developments feasible. While other critical state programs cut during the Great Recession have since been restored, affordable housing funds are not among them. When housing costs are factored in, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
“Living in decent, affordable, and reasonably located housing is one of the most important determinants of well-being for every Californian,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. “Addressing California’s housing crisis is one of the most difficult challenges facing our State. I believe that this funding proposal will help ensure that families do not overpay for housing, which in turn will help increase their disposable income so they can access the essentials they need to survive and thrive in this great state,” He concluded.
The Assembly Democrats’ plan represents a one-time budget investment in five priority areas to meet the range of housing needs for working, lower-income families and Californians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless:
- Rental housing for lower income working families;
- Homeownership opportunities and rental housing ;
- Affordable housing for rural California, including for farmworkers and their families;
- Seismic retrofit of “soft-story” homes; and
- Housing assistance and production for homeless individuals and their families.
During today’s press conference, the Assemblymembers noted that while ongoing investment is needed to address a housing affordability crisis that leaves 1.5 million families without a secure place to call home. A one-time investment of surplus funds in this year’s budget is a sound investment for California that will reduce the future costs of homelessness. The poorest 25 percent of Californians spend more than two-thirds of their income on housing. Creating affordable places to live is a crucial step toward reducing poverty.
A hearing on the budget proposal has been requested for May.