The Policy Pipeline: March, 2021

Photo of "The Gap" cover
The Davis Vanguard: Report Finds Huge Housing Shortage Nationwide, with California Leading the Way
March 22, 2021
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Affordable Housing Finance: TNDC’s Falk to Step Down
April 13, 2021
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Coming down the pipeline in this month’s edition:

  1. On the Federal Level: The American Rescue Plan passes! 
  2. NPH’s priority bills for the 2021-22 legislative session
  3. Bring California Home – AB 71
  4. Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA)
  5. Other things to know: Roadmap Home release, first policy committee hearings in March

On the Federal Level: The American Rescue Plan Passes

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan relief package, which contains $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus. The core housing components include:

  • $21.55 billion in additional funding for emergency rental assistance
  • $9.96 billion for homeowner assistance 
  • $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers for those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking support  
  • $5 billion for the HOME program

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple our state, drive unemployment, and push renters closer to the brink of homelessness, this critical rental, homeowner, and homelessness assistance will help stabilize millions of low income households across the state that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and help keep our affordable housing financially viable. Now more than ever, it is critical to help keep tenants housed, homeowners out of collapse, and people experiencing homelessness housed and protected. This legislation goes a long way towards ensuring that stability. NPH will continue to monitor rollout of this critical bill to ensure that it can help lead to a fair and equitable COVID recovery.

Lowering the 50% bond test: Given the 3:1 oversubscription of bonds in California, lowering the 50% bond test to 25% is NPH’s main federal ask. It is estimated that by fixing the 50% bond test, California could add an additional 36,000 affordable units in the next 18 months. NPH is meeting with staff from both Senator Feinstein and Senator Padilla, and we expect that lowering the 50% bond test will be included in the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act. We are hopeful that this critical change will then be included in must-pass federal legislation, such as the upcoming federal infrastructure bill. NPH will continue to organize meetings with the Bay Area’s Congressional delegation to raise awareness on this critical issue and gain more supporters.

NPH’s Priority Bills for the 2021-22 Legislative Session

With the 2021-22 legislative session in full swing, legislators are focused on many priorities that were unable to move forward last year, including affordable housing, homelessness, climate change, cannabis policy, public safety reform, COVID-19 recovery, wildfire prevention, tax reform, and revenue measures.

NPH has finalized our priority bills for the 2021-22 legislative session. We are co-sponsoring the following:

AB 528, Tax Delinquent Properties (Wicks):

NPH is proud to co-sponsor AB 528 with the City of Oakland. This bill will remove abandoned and blighted properties from neighborhoods, give affordable housing developers an opportunity to build in more places, and remove tax delinquent properties from the County ledger all the while keeping existing tenants housed by strengthening and improving the existing Chapter 8 process for acquiring and rehabbing tax delinquent second homes. 

Currently, California law gives non-profit affordable housing developers and public agencies the first option to purchase tax defaulted properties three years after tax delinquency through the Chapter 8 Tax Defaulted Property sale. The program is a unique opportunity to acquire vacant and/or blighted sites often at a cheaper price and then transform them into affordable housing which will serve the community for decades. However, this process is extremely underutilized. According to the State Controller, only 55 tax delinquent properties statewide have been repurposed as affordable housing over the past 10 years.

AB 528 will modernize and update the existing and cumbersome Chapter 8 process by:

  • Increasing the length of required affordability from 30 years to 55 years.
  • Incentivizing cities and county tax collectors to work together and with non-profit affordable housing developers to incentivize blighted properties to be converted to affordable housing.
  • Giving tenants an opportunity to purchase the property first before it goes into tax sale and guaranteeing tenants replacement units at rents or sales prices affordable to them if the property is redeveloped as affordable housing.
  • Reducing the time it takes for a nonprofit or public agency to acquire a tax defaulted property.
  • Creating a statewide list of available properties for affordable housing preservation and development.

Surplus Lands Act AB 1271 (Ting):

California is facing a housing crisis and unused public land has the potential to promote affordable housing development throughout the state. Most affordable housing in the Bay Area is built on previously publicly-owned land making it a central strategy for meeting our region’s affordable housing goals. AB 1271 clarifies and strengthens provisions in the Surplus Land Act that will promote the use of public land for affordable housing. 

NPH is working with East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) and the Public Interest Law Project (PILP) to propose changes that will ensure military bases provide their share of affordability contributions, long term leases are covered, and various loopholes are addressed.

Since passage of the last major round of changes through AB 1486, California public agencies have made thousands of acres of publicly-owned land available for affordable housing development. Agencies are complying primarily because the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has been empowered to oversee and aggressively enforce the law. As a result, many are now proposing bills to significantly weaken or altogether gut this critical bill. Through AB 1271, NPH is seeking to make lasting changes that will ensure that the bill remains robust and vigorously enforced so that our region and state can continue to prioritize public land for the public good.

SB 5, Affordable Housing Bond (Atkins): 

SB 5 is a $6.5 billion affordable housing bond. NPH is committed to advancing additional resources for affordable housing and at the same time, we are concerned about the addition of “skilled and trained” requirements into the bill that will require the use of only certain workers to build affordable housing. NPH continues to closely monitor this bill, which was recently amended on March 11. NPH has not sponsored this bill, but will continue to closely engage with it as it evolves.

ACA-1, Lowering Voter Threshold (Aguiar-Curry): 

This constitutional amendment would lower the voter approval threshold for affordable housing measures to 55% (from 66.67% currently). To advance in the state legislature, it requires 2/3 support, and we continue to work towards building the political will for its eventual passage. NPH continues to focus on this as a longstanding priority.

Bring California Home: AB 71

AB 71 would secure an annual $2.4 billion allocation for homelessness prevention, services, and Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). NPH is working in coordination with All Home, CSH, Housing CA, United Way LA, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to lead the Bring California Home campaign. 

The campaign has collected nearly 250 organizational endorsements and is pursuing additional endorsements from local policymakers and community leaders. AB 71 seeks an annual allocation from the state general fund, coupled with a tax on corporate profits held overseas (GILTI Tax), to secure the $2.4 billion annual allocations that are being sought. 

ABAG and MTC Release Report on Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA)

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) recently released a white paper, Momentum For Lasting Solutions, which contains five housing strategies for the newly formed regional housing agency, the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA), in order to advance affordable housing in the Bay Area.

MTC, in partnership with the Bay Area Housing for All (BAHA) coalition, is seeking to secure a one-time state budget appropriation of $18.5 million to support the five pilot programs. Add your support to the sign-on letter.

Other Things to Know

The Roadmap Home: The Roadmap Home initiative, co-led by Housing CA and California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC), launched on March 25. Learn about bills contained in the initiative. Some of the bills in the Roadmap are moving forward this legislative session, including lowering the voter threshold through ACA-1, a major affordable housing bond through SB 5, a state level housing accountability board through AB 989, Article 34 repeal, as well as federal changes that NPH and the collective affordable housing community have been pursuing. 

March Policy Committee hearings: The state legislature has started hearing bills in March through policy committees, where bills are first heard by legislators and can be stopped at any time. NPH is tracking 50 housing related bills and has been asked to weigh in on over two dozen. As we finish our analysis of the bills, we will bring them to you with our recommendations of support, neutrality, or opposition.

To stay on top of all of our legislative updates, sign up for The Policy Pipeline newsletter today!