The Mercury News: Building homes in ‘God’s backyard’: New bill would permit housing at California’s churches, mosques and synagogues

Scott Wiener on stage speaking to a crowd.
San Francisco Chronicle: ‘YIGBY’ bill to let churches build affordable housing is being revived — and a key shift could improve its chances
December 7, 2022
Scott Wiener at a podium speaking
Los Angeles Times: California churches, nonprofit colleges could build homes on their land with proposed law
December 8, 2022
Scott Wiener speaking in front of trades council to a crowd off-camera.

Seeking to ease the housing crisis by building homes in “God’s backyard,” a new bill would allow California churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions to build affordable housing on their properties — even if the land isn’t zoned for residential use.

Just one day after the start of the new legislative session, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) announced Senate Bill 4 — the “Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act.” The bill would remove red tape for religious groups and nonprofit colleges that want to build low-income housing, making them immune to certain lawsuits, appeals and denials as they go through the permitting process.

“If a congregation is willing to share their extra land with the community, we should say thank you,” said Abram Diaz, Policy Director for the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. “If they’re willing to house the homeless, we should say thank you. If a college is willing to put a roof over a low-income family’s head, we should thank them and welcome the opportunity in our community.”

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