Post-Legislative Session Review: Affordable housing solutions, wins, and looking ahead to 2019
While affordable housing remains the number one issue to Bay Area voters, affordable housing advocates had to hold their breath in anticipation waiting to see whether critical affordable housing bills would be signed in the final days of the 2018 legislative session. Fortunately, on Sunday evening (September 30), Governor Jerry Brown acted on the final bills of the final legislative session of his tenure as the state’s chief executive and among the bills in the last stack he signed was AB 2923 (Chiu and Grayson), the BART transit-oriented development accelerator bill co-sponsored by NPH.
This BART zoning bill became one of the most high profile housing bills of the session, and NPH — with our members, partners, supporters — was determined to ensure that the critical transit-oriented housing bill would cross the finish line.
While some local control and NIMBY concerns were raised, NPH and supporters advocated that AB 2923 was smart, sound policy that will allow us to simultaneously address our housing affordability and climate change crises. Our efforts included testifying in committee hearings, providing our Action Center toolsto supporters, convening and organizing support within the NPH Legislative Issues Committee, penning an op-ed and working to educate reporters and the public about the bill’s benefits. NPH was proud to do our part to ensure this badly-needed policy will be brought to our Bay Area.
Given the billions of dollars in public investment in the BART system, a floor on the type and intensity of development on BART-held property within a half-mile of a station entrance is eminently appropriate, reasonable and necessary as good public policy and aligned with the State’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies. The legislation requires that each proposed residential development provide at least 20% of the units as affordable to low and very low-income households and includes a 30% affordable requirement system-wide.
NPH deeply appreciates the leadership of Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Tim Grayson (D-Concord) and San Francisco BART Director Nick Josefowitz as such stalwart champions of smart and progressive transit-oriented affordable housing policy.
More Affordable Housing and Homelessness Solutions
Following up on 2017’s historic housing package, lawmakers vowed to continue working to bring forward and support housing and homeless solutions during the 2018 legislative year. While policy insiders suggest that 2019 may be an even bigger year for affordable housing progress, there were critical steps made this year.
The final FY 2018-19 State Budget enacted in June included $500 million in flexible Emergency Homeless Aid Block Grants to be distributed to local jurisdictions and Continuums of Care and $455 million in funding for the Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program.
Additional NPH priority bills that the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed included:
AB 2562 (Mullin), the NPH bill to authorize the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to adjust interest rates on any HCD loans to enhance project feasibility and long-term affordability for tenants and includes the Multifamily Housing Program (MHP) in the list of loan programs eligible for HCD’s Loan Portfolio Restructuring (LPR) Program (AB 1699 from 2012) including scattered site projects. NPH would like to thank Community Economics, Inc., the California Housing Partnership and Self-Help Enterprises in particular for their assistance with and advocacy on behalf of the bill as it moved through the legislative process.
AB 2035 (Mullin), the NPH follow-up legislation to last year’s AB 1598, which allowed cities and counties statewide to create Affordable Housing Authorities to fund activities to promote and develop affordable housing through local sales and/or property tax increment financing without requiring voter approval. Since the passage of AB 1598, various stakeholders, including local government, bond counsel, and housing developers asked for clean-up language, which is included in AB 2035. The bill also allows the financing of water, sewer, or other off-site public infrastructure necessary to support the development of affordable housing.
AB 2162 (Chiu), legislation to streamline approval of permanent supportive housing by making it by-right in zones where multifamily and mixed uses are permitted including non-residential zones that permit multifamily uses. At least 25% of the units in the development or 12 units, whichever is greater, must be restricted to residents in supportive housing. The bill was co-sponsored by the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Housing California.
Unfortunately, a couple key bills we worked on this year stalled out in the Legislature. The NPH priority bills that didn’t move this session are:
AB 2065 (Ting), our NPH-sponsored bill to strengthen the State Surplus Land Act was approved by the Assembly Local Government Committee but then held on the suspense file in Assembly Appropriations.
AB 3152 (Chiu and Kalra), sponsored by NPH, would have provided a property tax welfare exemption for affordable deed-restricted housing for moderate-income households up to 120% of AMI if demonstrated that the rents would be at least 10% below local fair market rents. The bill was passed unanimously by both the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee and Housing and Community Development Committee but was then held in the Appropriations Committee.
Over the past year, NPH, in consultation with our members, drafted, provided technical assistance, and advocated for many housing bills in the State Legislature. We continue to insist that the now-ended two-year Legislative Session must be understood as the first step of a sustained and ongoing effort to address the state’s shelter, humanitarian and affordability crises through robust funding and pro-housing policies.
We are grateful to our NPH members who attended our Legislative Issues Committee Meetings this year, sent in support letters and advocated for state funding and legislation to advance affordable housing. Click here to learn more about the Legislative Issues Committee and to learn how to join us at future meetings.