State Housing Legislation

State Housing Legislation

Posted on September 25, 2017

By Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises

In the last few months, we called upon our state legislators to “step up” and support an unprecedented package of housing bills. After a momentum-killing month of recess, the outcome of the housing package promised by the Governor and leaders of both legislative houses was anything but assured in late August. Yet, we were thrilled last week that our key Assembly Members Rudy Salas (Bakersfield), Dr. Joaquin Arambula (Fresno), and Adam Gray (Merced) all came through with guts and leadership to support the package of bills that were years in the making.

SB 2 proved to be the toughest challenge because it creates a new recording fee for non-homebuying transactions. The funds generated from the fee will go to critical local and statewide efforts to build affordable housing and combat homelessness. The margin for success was razor thin because it required a two-thirds vote. That’s where the guts came in for our legislators from conservative districts who tend to view efforts to raise money as new taxes.

Another critical bill for the San Joaquin Valley is SB 3, which will place a $4.2 billion bond for affordable housing on the 2018 ballot. While early polling for such a measure is quite positive, expect to hear more about this important effort in the coming year (it’s now been over ten years since the last bond measure was passed for affordable housing).

Other pieces of the housing legislative package included a permitting streamlining measure favored by the governor (SB 35), improvements to the farmworker housing tax credit program, and firming up the requirements for cities to proactively plan for housing their most economically challenged residents.

All in all, this represented the most prolific session for housing bills we have yet seen, testament to the pervasiveness of the current housing crisis in the state. While these bills won’t solve all of our problems that have been decades in the making, it is a great start.

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