Newsom backs bill requiring cities to plan for housing California’s poorest residents – Silicon Valley

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A correction to an earlier version of this article has been appended to the end of the article.

After pledging to hold local governments more accountable for solving homelessness, Gov. Gavin Newsom is throwing his support behind a bill that would require cities and counties to plan for potentially hundreds of thousands of new affordable homes for California’s very poorest residents.

The requirement would be part of the every-eight-years housing plans that cities and counties already must send to the state for approval.

“This new approach will require locals to better account for the needs of the lowest-income households and people experiencing homelessness,” Newsom said in a statement.

Currently, local governments must plan to meet specific homebuilding targets set across a range of affordability levels, with the lowest level being for residents earning less than 50% of an area’s typical income. Assembly Bill 3093 would split that category into three new levels between 0% and 50%.

In Santa Clara County, 50% of the typical annual income is $62,450 for a single person, according to the state housing department. If the bill went into effect today, the county’s lowest affordability level would be for those earning between $0 and $19,050. (The upper income limit would increase for larger households.)

Residents of affordable housing typically pay no more than 30% of their income on rent, though the amount can vary.

The new rules would apply to the next round of housing plans, which Bay Area localities must finalize by 2031.

Under the current plans, the Bay Area is supposed to permit about 441,000 new homes — roughly half of them for low- and middle-income residents — over the remaining seven years of the present cycle. Early results show the region is behind schedule in meeting that ambitious goal.

Newsom’s support of the bill follows new accountability measures he announced last month to ensure local governments are getting homeless people off the street and connected with services.

Should the bill pass, a team within the state’s Housing Accountability Unit will be tasked with assuring that cities and counties plan for more extremely low-income homes and supportive housing for homeless people. Last year, the unit worked with the state attorney general to sue Huntington Beach for failing to develop a housing plan. In March, a judge stripped the city of some of its authority to block new housing.

But even when jurisdictions satisfy the state’s planning expectations, that doesn’t mean affordable housing automatically gets built. With public funding severely oversubscribed, most local governments haven’t come close to hitting their affordable housing targets during recent eight-year cycles.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Assemblymember Chris Ward of San Diego, is still in the early stages of the committee process. It’s next set to go before the Assembly’s Committee on Housing and Community Development.

Correction: May 14, 2023 An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported the figure for 50% of Santa Clara County’s typical annual income.

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