California Passed Important Affordable Housing Legislation in the Midterm Elections

Across the country, low-income Americans are struggling to pay rent and the dream of homeownership is increasingly skewed towards wealthy households. While there has been no sweeping federal reform or policy breakthroughs, states are now tackling the crisis of affordable housing. During the midterm elections, California displayed the power of advocacy and dissatisfaction with current housing costs. Across the state, affordable housing initiatives passed with overwhelming support.

California voters passed two important pieces of legislation: Proposition 1, which funds housing for the poor, farmworkers and veterans through $4 billion worth of general obligation bonds; and Proposition 2, which allocates $2 billion towards housing for the chronically homeless and people with disabilities. These new funds are crucial to creating additional housing units for lower-income individuals. Municipal governments may use these funds to provide more Housing First programs that help the homeless, and those at risk of homelessness.

San Francisco passed a measure that will increase resources to address issues of homelessness in the city. The funding for these services will be raised from a tax increase on the city’s largest businesses

However, Californians also struck down a proposition that would expand rent control

Housing was not only a critical issue on the ballot, it also received considerable attention from numerous political candidates. California’s new governor-elect, Gavin Newsom, made affordable housing one of his top priorities. In his inaugural speech, the governor called for a “Marshall Plan for affordable housing,” linking the effort needed to address the state’s housing crisis to that of the project to rebuild post-war Europe in the late 1940s. His goal is to develop 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. 

Housing has become a focal point of concern for many Californians. The sky-rocketing price of homes in California stems from the lack of new available housing in the state. Since 2005, California has produced just 308 housing units per 1000 new residents.

The new measures will give struggling families more financial stability because they take major steps to address housing costs. Beyond homeownership, improved resources targeted to help the homeless will help more individuals get off the streets and into a home. This shows that the advocacy of many organizations fighting for affordable housing has paid off. Citizens have noticed and found that their voice and vote can have a lasting impact on housing and homeownership policy.

At Prosperity Now, we recognize the impact that accessibility to affordable housing can have on working-class families. We also understand that homeownership is a leading pathway to financial wealth, stability and security. We support housing organizations that support lower- and middle-class communities by sharing resources and tools for them to provide financial capability services to their clients. Some of these comprehensive services include credit building, savings, and budgeting. Effective financial education greatly improves one’s ability to be a successful long-term homeowner. 

Successful homeownership also requires ongoing support. For those families affected by the recession and the housing bubble collapse, we researched how good mortgage services can help families at risk of foreclosure. By providing more and earlier high-touch servicing (proactive contact with families at risk of foreclosure), mortgage servicers are better positioned to prevent families from losing their homes. 

We have partnered with Family Promise, a non-profit leader working with homeless populations, to explore ways in which manufactured housing can be used as a solution to help the 3.5 million homeless people living in the US. We do a lot of work around manufactured housing and host an annual conference on Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I’M HOME). One of our goals in doing this is to increase accessibility to the wealth-building opportunities that manufactured housing provides.

The continuous and diligent work of affordable housing organizations coupled with voter support at the polls is instrumental to the future of housing in the US. As affordable housing initiatives receive more funding, we are hopeful that more families will have a stable, lasting place to call home.

Join the Affordable Homeownership Network to learn more about the work Prosperity Now is doing to make homeownership affordable for everyone.

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