When 2016 began, we had high hopes this would be the year state leaders would finally make headway on a housing affordability crisis. They called the shortfall of affordable homes “one of the key threats to our economy,” a driver of the state’s “a high homeless population,” a “costly” problem for local governments, and a primary reason 1.5 million families face “a strained ability” to make ends meet.

Yet, despite the early acknowledgements of the sizable need and urgency to deliver relief to California’s families and businesses, the legislative session ended Wednesday with little discussion and even less action on crucial measures. Neither house took a vote to complete a $400 million investment agreement contained in the state budget or on streamlining affordable development with “by right” authority. The Assembly adjourned with silence – and no vote — on Sen. Jim Beall’s housing bond bill (SB 879). Asm. Mullin & Asm. Chiu’s bill (AB 2502) to authorize local governments to adopt inclusionary requirements died in committee.

At the final gavel of this year’s session, the following reform measures represented this year’s action on housing affordability:

  • SB 837 (signed as part of the budget) restores the ability to bifurcate state low-income housing tax credit certificated tax credits until January 1, 2020. The bill creates a new authority for projects receiving reservations before January 1, 2020 to “certificate” state credits.
  • AB 1618 (signed as part of the budget) established the No Place Like Home program (NPLH). NPLH is a $2 billion bond project to fund capital costs for the development supportive housing for people who are chronically homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness and have a mental illness. AB 1628* will authorize the sale of the bonds.
  • AB 2501 (Bloom)* reduces housing development costs and encourages residential developers to build homes of varying affordability levels by clarifying some provisions of state Density Bonus Law
  • AB 1934 (Santiago)* incentivizes commercial developers to partner with affordable housing developers to create more housing for low-income workers
  • AB 2031 (Bonta)* allows local jurisdictions to bond against their redevelopment “boomerang” funds
  • AB 2208 (Santiago)* revises the definition of land suitable for development to include air rights above sites owned or leased by local governments in their housing elements
  • AB 2818 (Chiu)* helps increase California’s affordable home-ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income working families by ensuring that Community Land Trusts may utilize the welfare exemption for properties with income restrictions
  • AB 2299 (Bloom)* & SB 1069 (Wieckowski)* reduce limitations on building accessory dwelling units.

Moving Forward

The Governor has until September 30 to sign or veto asterisked bills.