Momentum building in the Assembly as 11 new members endorse the bill; affordable housing and jobs legislation passes first committee
- Erin Ivie
- Director of Communications, Office of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
SACRAMENTO — The Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee voted on Wednesday to advance Asm. Buffy Wicks’ new bill, The Affordable Housing and High Road Jobs Act, as a growing number of members of the Legislature began to formally sign on as coauthors. The bill, AB 2011, will open new sites to affordable housing with the potential to produce millions of units, while creating strong labor protections that ensure all workers on these jobs earn high wages – and every community can grow a thriving, well-paid construction workforce.
Signing on to the bill this week as joint authors and coauthors are: Assemblymembers Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Tim Grayson (D-Concord), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton), Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), Mike Fong (D-Monterey Park), Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), Robert Rivas (D-Salinas), and Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced his support for the bill last week. Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has also signed on as a principal coauthor.
“It’s heartening to see so many champions of affordable housing and workers representing districts across the state lending their support to this bill, and I am looking forward to working closely with my colleagues to keep this important conversation going,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development. “The tremendous support for this bill in housing committee today is very encouraging, and I look forward to more conversations with all stakeholders, including the opposition. I believe this bill will allow us to make housing more affordable to all Californians, while growing a thriving, high-wage construction workforce in every community. That is our goal, and we are going to do everything we can to achieve it.”
After years of legislative stalemates over housing workforce issues, AB 2011’s housing provisions and strong labor protections are the first to be endorsed by both affordable housing and labor groups. The bill is co-sponsored by the California Housing Consortium, a statewide coalition of affordable housing providers, and the California Conference of Carpenters, representing more than 82,000 union carpenters across the state.
The bill pairs new opportunities to build 100% affordable housing and mixed-income housing on underutilized commercial sites with requirements that developers meet a range of responsible wage and training standards:
- Prevailing wage is required on all projects.
- For projects of 50 or more units, contractors must either participate in a state-approved apprenticeship program or request the dispatch of apprentices from a program and provide health benefits for their workers. If no apprentice workers are available, the project can still move forward.
- The bill also includes new enforcement mechanisms to ensure these payroll and benefits requirements are being met.
“AB 2011 addresses needs that are vital to all Californians: the need to increase our housing supply to make housing that is affordable a reality, and the need for every worker who helps increase that supply to have a stable, well-paying job,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord), co-chair of the Assembly Housing Working Group, which published a report in December highlighting the urgent need to expand production of affordable housing and grow the construction workforce. “I’m proud to be part of a solution that will help communities unlock more sites to build the housing they need while supporting the workers who do the job of building affordable homes. ”
“California is facing an epidemic of homelessness and affordability issues, and there is only one real way to solve these problems: Building more affordable housing,” said Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), a joint author of AB 2011. “This bill can help jumpstart a wave of affordable housing development, with all of the economic benefits of new housing – including creating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs – while avoiding impacts on the density or character of today’s residential areas. This is smart policy: It is good for housing, good for local communities, and good for workers.”
With thousands of underutilized commercial sites across California, one recent analysis found the potential for building three million units of affordable housing in just the Bay Area and Los Angeles County. The bill also includes new homeownership opportunities for middle-income Californians, while promoting climate-friendly affordable development on sites close to jobs and transit.
“We are fortunate to have strong, visionary affordable housing leaders in the Legislature, who are committed to helping millions of struggling, lower-income households find a safe, affordable place to call home – while also creating stable, well-paying jobs for California workers,” said Ray Pearl, Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium. “With California facing a shortfall of more than one million affordable homes, we have a lot of work to do to find new sites to build on, accelerate construction timelines, and get workers on the job and shovels in the ground. As Asm. Wicks said today, we have a ‘moral imperative’ to act on behalf of the far too many vulnerable Californians who desperately need housing. This bill gives us a way to get there by doing what we all do best – building our way out of this crisis.
“It is good to see progress in the Legislature on this genuine, workable solution to our state’s dire shortage of affordable housing,” said Daniel Curtin, Director of the California Conference of Carpenters. “This proposal will get more affordable homes built, while providing workers with exactly what we’ve been asking for: A prevailing wage requirement and strong package of labor protections that will create tens of thousands of steady, well-paying jobs with health benefits. It provides a level playing field for honest contractors that pay decent wages and play by the rules. Just as importantly, it lets us all get to work now, with the workers we have, while ensuring everyone on jobsites is treated fairly as we rebuild the blue-collar, middle-class construction workforce of the future. We applaud the Legislature for continuing to tackle this difficult issue – and advancing this fair, balanced and thoughtful bill.”
AB 2011 will now move on to Rules Committee for a short period of time to allow for discussions with opponents.
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