California Gov. Gavin Newsom pushes for low-income housing on state property

Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, discusses the homelessness problem facing California after a meeting in March with the mayors of some of the state's largest cities.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

In an effort to kick-start low-income housing construction, Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to solicit bids from developers by the end of this year to build homes on at least three state-owned properties.

The proposal, announced Thursday, follows a January executive order to survey state lands to determine where housing could be constructed. State officials culled a list of nearly 45,000 state-owned parcels, finding 1,300 that could be viable for new homes.

“My administration is using every tool at our disposal to combat the housing affordability crisis our families face,” Newsom said in a statement.


Under the plan, the state would ask affordable housing developers for ideas to build low-income projects through long-term ground leases of state property. The first bid, a news release from the administration said, would go out no later than Sept. 30.

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The effort takes aim at one of the major barriers to building low-income housing in the state: the rising cost of land.

From 2000 to 2016, land prices more than doubled in San Francisco and almost tripled in Los Angeles, according to UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, which also reported that in 2016, it cost nearly $425,000 per unit to build low-income housing in California.

Newsom also announced Thursday that six cities — Chico, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco — were working with the governor’s office to choose state property in their communities on which to build.

“I applaud the governor for taking this important step towards addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in the release. “Identifying and making state-owned land available for affordable housing will better enable communities, like Oakland, to meet our housing goals.”