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California State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), along with principal co-author Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), introduced legislation to create the Housing Opportunity and Market Stabilization (HOMeS) Act with the goal of creating a permanent funding source for affordable places to live in California.
"California needs a healthy housing market that provides an adequate supply of affordable homes for all Californians," said DeSaulnier. "By identifying a permanent funding source for this vital public service, this bill will ultimately remove affordable housing from protracted and contentious budget debates in Sacramento. With ongoing and permanent funding, affordable housing will become a reality instead of a goal for Californians in need."
Not since Jerry Brown's first governorship has state and local investment in the construction of affordable places to live been so low. At the state level, voter-approved housing-bond funds from Propositions 46 (2002) and 1C (2006) are running dry; while at the local level, the elimination of redevelopment agencies also eliminated California's largest single source of funding for affordable homes. To make matters worse, federal funding has also been cut.
Bills cosponsors acknowledge that California had a housing crisis long before the mass of foreclosures. The market wasn't meeting the needs of those on fixed incomes and modest budgets. Then the foreclosure crisis hit, creating more renters, who are being pushed into an increasingly expensive rental market. Advocates say that while for-sale prices are dropping, lending requirements have tightened, so homeownership remains out of reach for most of those who want to buy. Tragically, families are now the fastest growing segment of California's homeless population.
At the same time, funding at every level -- federal, state, and local -- used to jumpstart construction of affordable places to live dwindled or vanished all together, creating the perfect storm.
The HOMes Act (SB 1220) will support the development, acquisition, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable homes for Californians on fixed incomes and modest budgets, including emergency shelters, transitional and permanent rental housing, foreclosure mitigation, and homeownership opportunities. Funded through a $75 document recording fee on real-estate transactions, the bill would generate an average of $700 million per year for housing affordable to hardworking families, put construction workers back on the job, and boost California's economy by creating millions of dollars in new economic activity.
"The HOMeS Act takes a significant step towards ending homelessness and helping the most vulnerable find safe and affordable homes," said Paul Zimmerman, Executive Director of SCANPH. "The legislature must now find a new way to address our housing needs. We know that what's there is not working - and for the sake of our working families - they need to fix it.".
Download the SB 1220 fact sheet here.