- Erin Ivie
- Director of Communications, Office of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks
SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday, the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development will hear Assembly Bill 1657, the Affordable Housing Bond of 2024, which would place a bond measure on the March 2024 ballot to provide $10 billion to California’s affordable housing programs.
AB 1657 would authorize $10 billion in general obligation bonds to provide funding for affordable rental housing for lower income families, homeownership opportunities, and supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. The $10 billion distribution would include $5.25 billion to the Multi-Family Housing Program (MHP), $1.75 billion to supportive housing administered through MHP, $1 billion for programs to preserve or rehabilitate existing rental housing, $1 billion to the CalHOME Program and the My Home down payment assistance program, and $500 million to the Joe Serna Junior Farmworker Housing Program.
“We can’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to our state’s affordable housing investments,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland). “Now is the time to double down on our commitment to solving California’s housing shortage. Even in a tight fiscal climate, the staggering need demands that we treat the crisis with the urgency it deserves.”
The Governor has proposed funding for community behavioral health beds in residential settings to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders. Although some individuals struggle with substance abuse or mental illness, a growing number of people fall into homelessness due to a mismatch between wages and housing costs. One in three households in the state does not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. From October 1, 2020, to September 20, 2021, the average Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment in California was $2,030. To afford rent and utilities without being rent-burdened (paying more than 30 percent of income toward rent), a household must earn $6,766 per month or $81,191 per year. This translates into an hourly wage of $39.03 for a full-time worker. The Affordable Housing Bond Act would fund affordable housing for people who do not have mental health or substance abuse disorders, but just need an affordable home. The bond would also include supportive housing for people who are experiencing homelessness and wraparound services to maintain housing.
“All across this state, people want safe, healthy communities where everyone can thrive. To realize that vision, we must meet the urgency of this moment with bold investments in deeply affordable housing,” said Alex Visotzky, Senior California Policy Fellow at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “AB 1657 is just that. We are grateful to Assemblymember Buffy Wicks for championing this game-changing legislation that will accelerate the work to end homelessness in California.”
“California's growing housing affordability and homelessness crisis is impacting millions of people. Making sure that everyone has a home they can afford requires bold action from every level of government,” said Chione Flegal, Executive Director of Housing California. “We commend Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks for stepping up to this challenge. AB 1657 provides critical funding to build new homes, move people out of homelessness, and bring real housing solutions to California communities.”
The state has historically used similar voter-approved bonds to fund the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing and support homeownership across the state. California’s last housing bond, the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, authorized $3 billion for various affordable housing programs that will be largely allocated by the end of 2024.
“Asm. Wicks’ bond proposal comes at a critical moment for California, with affordable housing needs rising and state funding for successful affordable housing programs running out,” said Ray Pearl, Executive Director of the California Housing Consortium. “Californians overwhelmingly approved the state’s last housing bond five years ago, and with tens of thousands of affordable housing units in the pipeline, now is the time to return to voters to ask them to help affordable developers continue building the safe, affordable homes Californians need.”
According to the Statewide Housing Plan, California still needs an additional 2.5 million housing units – including 1.2 million for lower-income households – to meet the state’s unmet housing needs. Decades of underbuilding have led to a lack of housing overall, particularly housing that is affordable to lower-income households.
California needs an additional 180,000 new units of housing a year to keep up with demand – including about 80,000 units of housing affordable to lower-income households. By contrast, production in the past decade has been fewer than 100,000 units per year – including fewer than 20,000 units of affordable housing.
The last round of funding for the Multi-family Housing Program (MHP) was oversubscribed ten to one. Affordable housing projects are ready to go if funding is available.
“In creating new affordable and supportive homes, Asm. Wicks’ AB 1657 would make a significant dent in homelessness,” said Sharon Rapport, California Policy Director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). “This bill will not only save lives, it will allow thousands of Californians to stabilize and thrive. CSH is proud to support.”
“At a time when the state has committed local jurisdictions to zoning and facilitating 1 million new affordable homes by 2030, it is critical that the state also provide financial tools to produce these units,” added Matt Schwartz, President and CEO of the California Housing Partnership. “The Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2024 is exactly the type of bold leadership that we need at this moment.”
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