Low-income housing developments in California could receive a continued infusion of public subsidies under proposals unveiled this week by state lawmakers.
Multiple new bills call for new funding for low-income housing through a revival of an urban redevelopment program and by increasing tax credits to fund new projects. Legislators have failed to pass versions of the same measures in years past, but have new hopes because Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom campaigned on spending more money on housing. They also point out the state budget’s bottom line remains strong.
“Our housing crisis is dire and persistent, and our state must be just as aggressive and persistent in order to solve it,” Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said in a statement. “With a new governor and an extraordinary budget surplus, now is the time to make significant, ongoing investments in affordable housing.”
A California state senator has revived a major effort to boost homebuilding near transit, a proposal he says is necessary to address the state’s housing affordability and climate change challenges that have only deepened since his initial bill failed earlier this year.
A California state legislator is reviving an effort to require public universities to provide abortion pills on college campuses after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure earlier this year.
Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) said she believes the proposal has a better shot at becoming law next year under Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who publicly supported the idea on the campaign trail.
“I would have reintroduced it even if we still had Gov. Brown [in office] because I think the issue is that important,” Leyva said. “Women should always have access to abortion. That’s their constitutional protected right and it’s woman’s choice.”
With California’s move to end the cash bail system in limbo, Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) says he is looking for other ways to ensure courts are fair in determining whether criminal defendants are fit for release before trial.
On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, Hertzberg introduced a bill that would require the state to collect data and evaluate any so-called “risk assessment tools” already employed by as many as 49 counties across the state. The tools, or tech analyses, are used to evaluate people who have been arrested to determine whether, and under what conditions, they should be released.
But judges and court officials can insert data into the systems that can lead the software to draw improper, biased conclusions if not properly monitored, advocates say. Hertzberg’s new proposal, Senate Bill 36, would require counties to report how they use the systems in an attempt to prevent that from happening.
California lawmakers on Monday denounced a federal proposal that would restrict green cards for those likely to receive public assistance, calling it a “xenophobic,” “classist” and “racist” plan to target the state’s most vulnerable immigrant families.
Immigrants who rely on public benefits for food, housing and medical care could be denied green cards under the new rules put forth this fall by the Trump administration in an attempt to limit family-based “chain migration.” The proposal was part of wider efforts by the Trump administration to further restrict legal immigration.
“Trump’s latest anti-immigrant move shows again how heartless and un-American this administration has been; a move that forces immigrant families to make impossible choices,” said Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.
A Los Angeles-area lawmaker is proposing a 2020 ballot measure that would remove from the California Constitution a provision that makes it harder to build low-income housing.
Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) wants to eliminate Article 34 of the state Constitution, which requires a citywide public vote before new low-income housing projects that receive public funding are built. The provision was added to the Constitution through a ballot initiative in 1950, and Allen said it was a relic in need of repeal.
“The fact that this particular type of housing was subject to this additional requirement really does look pretty nefarious,” Allen said. “I think it’s reflective of old-school values that we’ve moved past.”
The new state Legislative session will see a change in the upper house’s top executive position, with Capitol veteran Erika Contreras nominated Friday to become secretary of the state Senate.
Contreras has been the chief of staff for Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) since 2010 and fills a post being vacated at the end of December by Daniel Alvarez, who is retiring after more than 32 years in state government.
“Erika is deeply familiar with the inner workings of the Senate and has a profound appreciation for our traditions,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who introduced a resolution expected to be approved next week by the Senate. “I’m confident she has the skills and temperament to guide this chamber into the future.”
In the past few years, homeless populations across California have risen dramatically and nowhere more so than in the state’s largest cities.
On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we play excerpts from a forum held earlier this month with big city mayors talking about how they’re addressing the issue and what else needs to be done. On the panel, which was moderated by CALMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
We also talk to former Houston Mayor Annise Parker about her widely praised efforts to reduce homelessness in her city during her tenure and how Houston’s different laws for home building — the city has no zoning rules — affects housing affordability there.