California’s Poorest Households Need Help from the California Legislature.

Urban Institute researchers found that only a small percentage of extremely low-income households could find affordable housing to rent in many California counties in 2013. The California Housing Partnership Corporation estimates a shortage of 1.5 million affordable rental units in the state.

Without federal aid, which could drop, the situation could be even worse. A shortage in affordable housing options limits economic development, because people cannot live close to employment centers. The Legislative Analyst’s Office believes that the state’s housing shortage threatens its economic future.

California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins of San Diego, who grew up in poverty, is championing a package of bills aimed at alleviating the housing shortage. They are:

o    AB 35 – increases the State Housing Tax Credit by $300 million dollars, allowing home developers to access an additional $600 million in federal funds. 
o    AB 90 – outlines a manner by which California will spend funds received from the National Housing Trust Fund.
o    AB 1056 – earmarks 33 percent of budget savings under Proposition 47 for a Rapid Re-Housing Program targeted at aiding previously incarcerated individuals suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues find housing. 
o    AB 1335 – places a $75 document recording fee on real-estate transactions (excluding commercial and residential home sales). The revenues from this fee would fund development, acquisition, rehabilitation, and preservation of housing.  

AB 35 has passed the assembly and moved to the Senate, but the other bills have stirred more debate and are still under revision in the assembly. The state needs to act, and private developers need to help in order to avoid even greater challenges in the future.

Written by Nicole Miller, a Research Assistant at RSG.