California to Invest Billions in New Affordable Housing


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California state legislators recently approved three bills to boost the supply of local affordable housing.

Senate Bills 2, 3, and 35 expect to raise billions to pay to build thousands of new homes for the state’s low-income residents. The bills also also aim to ease local regulations on home-building to help middle-class Californians who are now overwhelmed by costs.

“The poverty rate in California, everyone talks about it,” said state Sen. Toni Atkins, author of Senate Bill 2 in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.

“Look at everything we do. For child care, for education, for minimum wage, for health care. All those things are significant. And because of housing costs, it negates all those good things.”

Action for Affordable Housing

More than most states, California is plagued by rising housing costs.

The media home value currently sits at $505,800, according to The Los Angeles Times. This figure is 2.5 times more than the national average.

Nearly two million of the state’s residents pay 50% or more of their overall income on rent.

“I’ve read study after study after study outlining this crisis,” said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, one of the leading legislators on housing issues in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “We’re here to do something about it.”

The new bills aim to create solutions:

  • Senate Bill 2: Adds a $75 fee on mortgage refinances and other real estate transactions (except for home and commercial property sales. It could raise $250 million a year to help pay for low-income developments.
  • Senate Bill 3: Adds a $4 billion bond on the November 2018 ballot. $3 billion would subsidize the construction of low-income housing. $1 billion would be home loans for veterans.
  • Senate Bill 35: Eases local rules for home building to enable greater supply of affordable housing.

Why housing is important

Rising housing costs have many negative consequences.

Those paying exorbitant amounts for rent often have to:

  • forego both preventative and necessary medical expenses;
  • make difficult decisions regarding food costs; and
  • have multiple members of the family working to maintain their current living situation.

After taking into account housing and other cost of living expenses, one in five people living in California are living in poverty, the highest rate in the nation, according to Census data.

“This comprehensive approach does what’s long been needed in California — build new homes and improve access to housing,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement the media.

Read more about the impact of housing on Latino health here:


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