End-of-Session Housing Push Won’t Make Dent in State’s Housing Problem

Lawmakers haven’t yet voted on legislation they say addresses the state’s housing crisis, but it’s just as well. The proposals they were trying to pass off as solutions aren’t solutions at all.

One bill that’s key to the rest of the legislative package would add to real estate costs, while other bills would stack up more public debt, and increase the cost of homes in California.

Democrats need a two-thirds approval in each chamber to pass the bills because they would raise taxes and that requires a supermajority. Without the vote of every Democrat, the bills won’t pass if the Republicans unanimously oppose them, as many expect them to.

The centerpiece legislation is a $4 billion housing bond, Senate Bill 3. Three-fourths of the funds “would be used to finance various existing housing programs, as well as infill infrastructure financing and affordable housing matching grant programs,” while $1 billion would be directed to “a specified program for farm, home, and mobile home purchase assistance for veterans.”

Before the $1 billion was added for veterans on Aug. 28, California Treasurer John Chiang was suggesting that lawmakers pass a $9 billion housing bond. But why stop there? The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says that “building affordable housing for California’s 1.7 million rent-burdened low–income households would cost in excess of $250 billion.”

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