Governor Newsom Ramps Up Affordable Housing Plan as Study Finds State Falls Well Short of Marks

A week ago, the public policy group Next 10 came out with a scathing report that found, “California’s housing goals are exacerbating the housing crisis” and “at the current pace of development, certain jurisdictions in California will not meet their low-income housing production targets for more than 1,000 years.”

The study finds most regions are chronically behind on permitting new housing units, and 100 of the 539 jurisdictions have not been participating in the reporting process at all.

“This data shows that state-wide, less than 10 percent of the RHNA-allocated low- and very-low income units have been permitted, compared to nearly half of the higher-income housing,” said F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of Next 10. “This disturbing trend reveals how little is being done to alleviate the affordability crisis in California, contributing to rising homelessness and displacement across the state.”

Overall the study found that most jurisdictions are far behind on meeting their RHNA (Regional Housing Need Allocation) goals.  They found only 25.9 percent of the allocated units statewide have been permitted across all income levels, even though the current cycle is more than half over.

Moreover, the percentage completed gets progressively worse as the income level lowers.  “45.6 percent of above moderate-income units have been permitted, whereas only 19 percent of moderate, 9.8 percent of low income, and 7.3 percent of very low-income units have been permitted.”  Moreover, “52 percent of jurisdictions that have submitted an APR have permitted zero units for the very low-income category.”

Most troubling is that some jurisdictions won’t hit their goals for decades and even centuries.

For example: “At the current pace of very-low income housing permitting, San Francisco and Oakland will meet their very low-income goal around 2030, Los Angeles and Long Beach won’t meet their goals until closer to 2040, Palo Alto won’t hit theirs until 2063, while Santa Clara won’t hit their target until beyond 2500.

“At the above moderate-income level, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose will meet their goals by the end of 2019, while Riverside won’t meet their goal until after 2200, based on current permitting pace.”

The four measures find that while Davis is not doing that well, it is doing better than most.  For very low income RHNA allocation Davis would meet goals by 2037, slightly worse than Woodland’s 2026, but better than West Sacramento and Sacramento which are 2050 and beyond.

For low income, Davis would meet its goals by 2028, between that of Woodland at 2027 and West Sacramento at 2219.  Sacramento would reach its goals by 2053.

For moderate income, Davis would reach its goals by 2029, worse than West Sacramento (2020) and Woodland (2022).

For above moderate income, Davis has already met its goals by 2017 while Woodland is on track for 2020, but West Sacramento and Sacramento lag.

Governor Gavin Newsom has made getting housing costs under control a top priority of his new administration.  He called for a “new Marshall Plan” and promised to spend $1.3 billion on affordable housing.  But critics warn that even this amount of money is not going to go that far, given the current costs of affordable housing and how far behind the state is.

The GAO (Government Accountability Office) estimates that the median affordable housing development in the state costs $326,000 per unit.  By comparison, a similar study found the cost in Texas per unit is $126,000.

Governor Newsom said he wants California to build 3.5 million new housing units per year for the next ten years in order to solve its affordable housing shortfall.  But that number is more than double what the state has built in any of the last few decades.

The governor has also pushed a stick-based approach.  He announced in January that he would link housing goals to road repair money.

On Monday he announced a $1.75 billion package to confront housing costs.  This includes $1 billion in tax credits and loans to spur low, mixed and middle-income housing production through separate legislative and budget proposals.

According to the governor’s press release, he would set aside other short-term goals for housing that cities and counties must meet.

“Our state’s affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream and the foundations of our economic well-being,” said Governor Newsom. “Families should be able to live near where they work. They shouldn’t live in constant fear of eviction or spend their whole paycheck to keep a roof overhead. That’s increasingly the case throughout California.”

In January the governor called on the legislature to provide relief and stabilization for renters. He signed an executive order to build affordable housing on excess state lands and announced first-of-its-kind legal action against a city, Huntington Beach, for standing in the way of affordable housing production and refusing to meet regional housing needs.

In his State of the State address, he offered state assistance to the 47 California cities out of compliance with state housing requirements and invited city leaders to meetings with state housing officials in Long Beach and Sacramento.

As part of the plan to address the housing cost crisis, the governor proposes:

  • Accelerating and Incentivizing Housing Goals – the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will establish new, higher short-term statewide housing goals for jurisdictions.
  • Jump-Starting Housing Production – The trailer bills provide $750 million in one-time funding to help jump-start housing production. $250 million will go to cities for planning towards their new, higher short-term housing goals. $500 million will go to cities as incentives as they meet certain milestones of planning and zoning for more housing.
  • Steps Towards Long-Term Housing Reform – A new proposal will ensure that by December 31, 2022, HCD, in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Research (OPR), will engage stakeholders and propose an improved RHNA process and methodology.
  • Expanding Middle Class Housing Opportunities – A separate trailer bill will propose the creation of a major, new investment in spurring new middle-class housing production. This will happen by providing funding to support the development of affordable housing critical to spurring affordable communities.

Not everyone is supportive of linking gas tax funds to housing, however.  The Bee quotes Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, who called the proposal “disturbing” and said, “Using SB1 funding is not something that I think should be on the table.”

Jim Cooper, who represents Elk Grove, agreed.

“There were comments made to the voters and promises made and that was a very heavy lift last year,” Assemblymember Cooper said. “I think the voters do have a certain expectation that those funds be used for what’s promised, and now to change that mid-stream, that’s going to rub a lot of folks wrong.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

In the meantime, join the Vanguard on March 21 for the first of a series of three forums on affordable housing.  The forum will focus on state and local policies that allow for and limit affordable housing.  The panel will consist of Councilmember Lucas Frerichs, Lisa Baker from the Yolo County Housing Authority, and Matt Dulcich from UC Davis.

It take place on Thursday, March 21, from 7 to 9 at Repower Yolo (located at 909 5th Street – the Indigo Building where the old Dairy Queen was located).

Join Us on March 21 for Affordable Housing Forum


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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1 Comment

  1. Craig Ross

    [edited] Still…  I’m not sure that Governor Newsom is going about this the right way.  give us RDA and we can build the housing that we need.  Without those tools, this is all just posturing.

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