Bringing you updates in legislation, policy, and other news relating to affordable housing, homelessness, sustainable communities, and related issues.



What is Ahead for Voters in 2024?

by Christina Mun, Chief Strategy Officer | LeSar Holdings, Inc.

2024 is shaping up to be a busy year at the ballot box for affordable housing, with measures now qualified for both the March and November ballots and other measures anticipated to qualify in the coming days. Here is a snapshot of nine ballot measures that could shape housing in California over the next year, including five Constitutional Amendments, three potential bond measures, and one measure that would repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Among the measures? Rent control, which has qualified for the November ballot after two previous tries to gain voter approval (2018 and 2020). Another controversial measure on the November ballot would change the State Constitution to limit the State’s ability to require that local governments approve new housing developments and abide by other State housing requirements. 


Learn More About the HUD Pro Housing Grant Program at Up for Growth Webinar

by Jacqueline Woo, Senior Associate | Policy and Legislative Team  

Federal funding will soon be available to support jurisdictions working to eliminate barriers to affordable housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its newly established Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program, which provides competitive grants to communities that are actively working to identify and eliminate barriers to housing and that result in lower housing costs for lower-income families.


White House Announces New Housing Actions

by Natalie Donlin-Zappella, Legislative Director | Policy and Legislative Team   

In addition to the $85 million PRO Housing Program, the Biden Administration made several important announcements over the summer, that help tenants, that provide new funding, and that focus on new tools and approaches. One area the Administration highlights is the potential for increasing the housing stock by converting underutilized or vacant office and commercial space. 



Good News for Accessory Dwelling Units

by Farzad Mashhood, Senior Associate | Housing Team  

According to the University of California at Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, in 2022 nearly 80,000 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) were permitted and over 53,000 were completed, representing a significant percentage of new home construction in California. Despite the popularity and growth of ADUs, there are still barriers that make it challenging for homeowners to add an ADU to their property, including a lack of available financing products, restrictive land use and zoning regulations and permitting requirements, and overall cost of development. This is especially true for lower- and moderate-income homeowners who don’t have the resources to self-finance or enough equity in their property to acquire a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). But there is some good news on the horizon...



Informative Reports About Housing are Great End-of-Summer Reads

Last week, the Terner Center for Housing Innovation released a new research report that identifies an estimated 171K acres of land owned by faith-based organizations and nonprofit institutions of higher learning in California that could be used to provide affordable homes for lower- and moderate-income residents. Check out the report -The Housing Potential of Land Owned by Faith-Based Organizations and Colleges - which includes parcel-level data for every county in the State. This information will be very helpful to have in hand if Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 4 gets signed into law this October. SB4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, will provide a streamlined process for churches and colleges to develop new affordable homes on land they own. The bill is working its way to the Governor’s desk and will need to get his signature by October 14th to become law.

In early August, the Terner Center released Streamlining Multifamily Housing Production in California: Progress Implementing SB 35, which looks at the impact Senate Bill 35 has had throughout the State since its passage in 2017 and makes recommendations for improvements that would increase the legislation’s effectiveness. Between 2018 and 2021, SB 35-- which includes provisions to speed up the housing development process for certain qualified projects in jurisdictions failing to address their housing needs - has been used for 156 developments with more than 18,000 homes (see the interactive map here). While the law is set to sunset on January 1, 2026, Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) has introduced SB 423, which would extend the sunset date until January 1, 2036 among other changes.

A new report from The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University looks at the history of redlining and how community-based organizations have engaged. In From Redlining to Resilience: How Residential Segregation Molded the Work of Community-Based Organizations in Historically Black Communities, the report highlights seven CBOs and how they have worked in areas with a history of housing discrimination, looks at how funders have responded, and makes recommendations and raises questions about how funders might change their policies and practices to better serve these communities.

Another report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies looks at the Dutch social housing system. The People’s Housing: Woningcorporaties and the Dutch Social Housing System -- Part 2: The Mechanics digs into the way the system is working today and how it has evolved over time to respond to changes in the political and societal landscape. This study follows a prior report that detailed the history of the system, which provides nearly a third of the housing units available in the Netherlands (an estimated 2.3 million homes) all operated by a network of 284 nonprofit housing associations.

An interactive report from CNN - Buying a House is the Hardest It’s Been in Nearly 30 Years - dives into housing affordability across the nation and includes detailed data about 340 metro areas that readers can compare to the national average and to other communities. Not surprisingly, California is home to the five least affordable metro areas in the nation.

The Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley recently published a research brief entitled Corporate Ownership and California’s Accessory Dwelling Units, which investigates the involvement of large institutional investors in the creation of new ADU homes and finds that a growing number of ADUs are being built in newly constructed subdivisions. The authors express the need for more research to determine the impact and whether it results in an increase in the affordable housing supply or rather leads to gentrification and displacement. 

New research from the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and Housing Solutions Lab compiled data from more than 200 emergency rental assistance programs and thousands of tenants and landlords to look at how administrative burdens impact the delivery of rental assistance to those in need. Their report, Administrative Burdens in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs, highlights implementation challenges and suggests that the federal government work to create standing emergency rental assistance programs that can be easily scaled up in times of increased need. 

New Tools and Research on Homelessness

To help communities prepare for and respond to housing needs for homeless residents and other vulnerable people in the event of disaster, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a Disaster Recovery Homelessness Toolkit. The toolkit provides links to helpful documents and includes detailed steps that local government officials can take to implement an inclusive planning process in advance of a disaster, strategies for disaster response to ensure that plans are in place prior and immediately after a disaster, and a longer-term plan for recovery once the immediate disaster has passed. The Toolkit and other resources are included in the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’s Roundup of Resources for Communities Before, During, and After Disasters, which provides an inventory of relevant tools to help communities address the unique needs of people experiencing homelessness.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently highlighted a report entitled Homeless to Housed—The ULI Perspective Based on Actual Case Studies that provides detailed information about eight developments that provide transitional and permanent housing for homeless individuals and families, including four in California - The Bryant Street Project in San Francisco, The City of Long Beach Best Western, LifeMoves Mountain View, and Berkeley Way in Berkeley. The report provides key takeaways for the development community to help the sector better understand how it can be an active partner in responding to homelessness, not only by building housing but also by working to influence policies and perspectives.


California Delivers $239 Million to Pave the Way for Over 5,400 New Climate-Friendly Homes | Press Release | Governor Gavin Newsom, August 25, 2023


This is Public Housing. Just Don’t Call It That | Article | New York Times (paywall), August 24, 2023


In Maui and Across America, Climate Change and Extreme Weather are Hurting Housing Affordability | Article | CNN, August 21, 2023


A Private Equity Firm Might Be Your Next Landlord | Article | New York Times (paywall), August 15, 2023


New Research Shows Some of Calif’s Most Affordable Cities Saw Biggest Rent Increases | Article | NBC Los Angeles, August 13, 2023


How the Real Estate Industry Engineered American Segregation | Article | Bloomberg, August 11, 2023


Gen Z Can’t Afford the Rent | Article | New York Times (paywall), August 11, 2023


How California’s Rising Insurance Premiums Threaten Affordable Housing | KQED, August 7, 2023


The Invisible Laws that Led to America’s Housing Crisis | Article | CNN Business, August 5, 2023


Rent Growth is Slowing (Where Housing Got Built) | Article | New York Intelligencer (paywall), August 4, 2023


The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: What You Need to Know About Algorithmic Tenant Screening | Blog and Comments |Tech Equity Collaborative, July 26, 2023


Sprawl Can Be Good, Actually: Expand the Metropolitan Commute Zone to Grow Housing Supply | Article | Niskanen Center, July 12, 2021


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