Real solutions to California's housing crisis: An update and a look ahead

California’s affordable housing crisis has reached a fever pitch. Here’s an update on:

  • New state legislation that could help. 
  • Propositions 1 and 10 on the November 6 ballot.
  • Our ambitious longer-term campaign to end displacement.


The California Legislature has taken action on housing

Last year, the Legislature took action with its 2017 housing package: 14 bills that together provide much-needed funding for new affordable homes and speed up the process of planning, approving, and building those homes.

This year, the Legislature went even further by passing Assembly Bills 686 and 1771. Both were signed into law by the Governor and will do the following:

  • AB 686: Requires public agencies to administer housing and community development programs and activities in a way that affirmatively furthers fair housing. To “affirmatively further fair housing” means to examine housing patterns for racial bias and then plan and act to remove that bias — that is, to actively dismantle segregation. (See my earlier blog post on this and a great op-ed from Sam Tepperman Gelfant, Deputy Managing Attorney at Public Advocates and ClimatePlan Steering Committee member on AB 686.) AB 686 applies to regional agencies, so each region’s plan (its Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Community Strategy or RTP/SCS) now must dismantle racially concentrated poverty and other barriers to opportunity! With a new round of plans being developed in San Diego and Sacramento, this is a great opportunity.  

  • AB 1771: Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) seeks to increase housing across a region “in an equitable manner,” with a mix of housing types and levels of affordability. AB 1771 now also requires regions’ RHNA plans to do three more things: avoid displacement; increase access to areas of “high opportunity” for lower-income residents; and affirmatively further fair housing. Regional agencies must also explain how exactly their methodology will increase “high opportunity” access while avoiding displacement. The RHNA is developed side by side with the RTP/SCS and is another opportunity for regional agencies — and advocates — to ensure that planned housing growth increases opportunity and access for lower-income residents while curbing displacement.

ClimatePlan was proud to stand with our housing partners (and sponsors of these bills) including Public Advocates, Western Center for Law and Poverty, and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation to support these exciting laws.

Vote on November 6 to help provide more housing

However, more is still needed to address California’s housing crisis. On the November ballot, there are two important propositions that could help:

  • ClimatePlan supports Proposition 1, which will provide $4 billion through a bond to build and preserve housing. The measure also links housing, land use, and transportation, with programs to finance infrastructure for infill and support transit-oriented development. Programs like these will help our state achieve its climate goals and address the housing crisis at the same time. You can read more here.

  • While ClimatePlan does not have a position on Proposition 10, we realize how important this proposition is for many Californians (including our staff members, all renters!). Proposition 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, passed in 1995. Costa-Hawkins prevents cities from establishing rent control on homes built after February 1995; it also exempts single-family homes and condos from rent control. Proposition 10 would not enact any rent control, it would just enable cities with these ordinances to expand them if they choose. We encourage you to read more about Proposition 10 (see: opposition from SPUR, support from TransForm, ) and vote on November 6.

ClimatePlan’s campaign: Investment Without Displacement

ClimatePlan is unique. We are a diverse network of partners representing a multitude of issues including housing, transportation, climate, conservation, environmental justice, health, social equity, and more. In 2017, we saw an opportunity: we could bring together this diverse network to support and advance real solutions to California’s housing crisis.

With California's housing crisis, investments are needed in communities across the state to build and preserve homes. And if we want to achieve our climate goals, we also need investments that builds affordable homes near jobs and high-quality transit. But if we're not careful, this type of investment could also raise rents and push existing residents — particularly the most vulnerable — out of their homes. It could displace people from their communities, and put them further from access and opportunity. 

Any real solution to our housing and climate crisis must include protections against displacement.

That’s what we heard earlier this year, when we convened a subset of partners to identify how ClimatePlan could help. At our convening, it became clear that partners wanted to work collaboratively on investment without displacement.

From our July convening, ClimatePlan drafted this document, stating our collective goal. This will guide ClimatePlan’s work on housing and ensure we support our partners’ efforts. Key highlights include:

  • ClimatePlan’s goal: Ensure investment in communities occurs without displacement.

  • What we mean by displacement: A forced or responsive move due to changes in one’s home or neighborhood; displacement is related to systems of power and oppression, including racism, classism, and patterns of investment, disinvestment, and exclusion.

  • Who is ClimatePlan most concerned about being displaced: Renters, low-income people of color, and other vulnerable populations.

  • What investments we’re concerned about:
     - Public dollars for infrastructure and financing;
     - Private, market-rate real estate development;
     - Government actions that create value for private entities, e.g., upzoning sites and streamlining regulations; and
     - Any combination of the above

  • What should investments in communities do: ClimatePlan promotes investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are shaped by residents, and provide direct benefits and supports to communities — specifically those who have been historically underserved and neglected.

This goal is the start: we are still convening partners. Together, our next step will be to identify policies and approaches to achieve the goal, then develop a policy platform to guide our work for 2019 and beyond.

Stay tuned for our Investment without Displacement policy platform!

If you’re interested in hearing more about this process or getting involved, please reach out to Chanell.

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