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Bill to Establish Social Housing Passes off the Assembly Floor

For immediate release:

AB 309 to establish Social Housing in California passed off of the Assembly Floor with over a supermajority of votes and is now headed to the Senate. The final vote was 55-16.

In 2018, California ranked 49th among the United States in housing units per resident, and it’s estimated that an additional 180,000 new units of housing would need to be built each year to meet demand. 

Due to the high cost of living, California has been losing lower and middle-income residents who have been priced out as more than two in five households spent over 30% of their income on housing, and more than one in five households spent over half of their income on housing. Families who pay more than 30% of their income for housing are considered rent burdened by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and can have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care. 

Further, existing strategies to address the lack of affordable housing have not produced nearly enough to meet demand. Over 97% of cities and counties in California have been unable to produce enough affordable housing, and there are only enough affordable and available rentals for 24% of extremely low income households.

“Publicly developed, maintained, and owned housing for Californians of all socioeconomic levels is the key to solving our housing crisis - the state is already getting in the business of housing, but we lack a focused state public developer to do it at scale,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “I’m hopeful as the momentum is shifting in America with Seattle recently passing a referendum to pursue social housing, efforts in other states such as Hawaii and Maryland, and now AB 309 advancing here in California.”

Social housing is publicly backed, self-sustaining housing that accommodates a mix of household income ranges:

  • Social housing has been successful across the globe, including several developments in Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as attractive, affordable housing for people of different income levels in Vienna and Singapore.
  • Social Housing bills have been introduced in other states such as Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island
  • Social housing is protected from being sold to a private for-profit entity for the duration of its life, and residents are granted the same protections as tenants in private properties, including just cause eviction protections.
  • Housing for people with higher incomes will subsidize lower-income units and allow housing developments to become self-sustaining and revenue neutral. Remaining funds will be used for community development and repairs.
  • Residents are able to participate in decision making, such as providing the resident perspective to property management or hosting meetings to gather feedback from residents. 

Social housing also avoids the problem of concentrated poverty, by creating mixed-income neighborhoods. This strategy fosters economic opportunities, while preserving affordability to low-income households in the community.

The bill is jointly authored by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-San José) and Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and co-authored by Assemblymembers Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), Steve Bennett (D-Ventura), Matt Haney (D-SanFrancisco), Corey Jackson (D-Perris), Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chris Ward (D-San Diego), as well as Senators Caroline Menjivar (D-Van Nuys), Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

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