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California Legislature

Low-income housing funding bill clears key hurdle in California Senate

Senate Bill 2 from Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would add a $75 fee to real estate transactions, such as mortgage refinances, to fund state housing subsidies. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Senate Bill 2 from Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would add a $75 fee to real estate transactions, such as mortgage refinances, to fund state housing subsidies. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A bill that could provide roughly $250 million a year in new funding for low-income housing development passed the state Senate on Thursday, a key hurdle that keeps on track a potential larger housing package pending in the Legislature.

Senate Bill 2 from Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) would add a $75 fee to real estate transactions, such as mortgage refinances, to fund the state housing subsidies. Home and commercial property sales would be exempted from the fee. 

Because the bill adds a new fee, it needs a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature to pass. The measure received exactly that number in the Senate with all 27 Democratic senators voting in support. The bill now heads to the Assembly.

“After today’s vote, I am increasingly hopeful that relief is coming soon for many hard-working people," Atkins said in a statement.

Atkins' bill is part of a group of pending measures that aim to increase spending on low-income housing development and lower restrictions to make it easier and cheaper to build. Senate Bill 3, a $3-billion low-income housing bond, has also passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the Assembly. But Assembly Bill 71, which would end the state's mortgage interest deduction on second homes and redirect that money to low-income housing funding, remains stuck in the Assembly. 

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