California leads the nation in many areas. However, we sadly also lead the nation in having the highest level of people living in poverty due to our state’s high cost of living and our affordable housing crisis. No county in California has an adequate amount of affordable housing for working-class families. Our state has a shortfall of 1.5 million affordable homes, as well as many of the least affordable metropolitan areas in the country.
In our city 60 percent of low-income San Franciscans spend half their paychecks on rent, and evictions of long-time residents have become all too commonplace. Unfortunately, this crisis has been in part due to massive cuts in funding to build affordable housing. In recent years, due to the elimination of state redevelopment agencies and the drying up of state housing funds, we have lost over $1.5 billion a year of affordable housing funding.
That is why in my first legislative session I introduced Assembly Bill 35, along with Speaker Toni Atkins and hundreds of organizations from around California, to make sure that in California, having a roof over your head should not be seen as a luxury.
AB 35 addressed our affordable housing crisis by increasing California’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit by $300 million in order to construct and rehabilitate affordable housing units up and down the state. It would have leveraged an additional $600 million in federal low-income housing tax credits and close to $1 billion of additional private sector housing capital.
This bill would have utilized an untapped four percent federal low-income tax credit program— the most successful affordable rental housing production tool in the U.S.—that incentivizes private investment in affordable housing development. AB 35 would have boosted construction throughout the state and rehabilitated older affordable housing units, creating thousands of jobs and generating millions in local government revenue.
On behalf of the 800 organizations and the 118 legislators who supported AB 35, I am profoundly disappointed that Governor Brown recently vetoed AB 35. As a result, our state lost a significant opportunity to make a smart investment that would have leveraged hundreds of millions of state, federal and private sector dollars for affordable housing.
While this veto is disheartening, the movement for more affordable housing funding does not end. In the coming months, I hope that you can join our coalition to fight for more affordable housing for our state and our city. The time for affordable housing is now, and we need your help to ensure that our state capitol knows why this issue can’t wait.
David Chiu is a Democratic Assemblymember representing eastern San Francisco.
Story by: David Chiu