Special to the Vanguard
Sacramento. CA – This week, the state legislature approved a bill from Senator Bill Dodd that would assist the creation of affordable housing in California by identifying excess state property that could be used for development, advancing earlier initiatives from Gov. Gavin Newsom to address the state housing crisis.
“We’ve taken a big step toward the rapid creation of affordable housing, which is vital to Californians experiencing increased homelessness and instability because of extreme prices,” Sen. Dodd said. “To accelerate construction of these much-needed units, we must continue to prioritize the use of excess state land. Approval of my bill ensures we continue to identify which properties are available and get these projects going as economically and efficiently as possible.”
The state’s need for affordable housing is significantly outpacing its production, which is negatively affecting Californians. According to a report from the California Housing Partnership, 1.4 million low‑income California households lacked access to affordable housing last year. Despite California’s need for affordable housing, the state has annually fallen 100,000 units short on its affordable housing creation goals for many years.
Gov. Newsom made progress with his 2019 executive order that first called for the use of surplus state land for affordable housing. On his order, the Department of General Services reviewed 44,000 state properties and found 92 of them suitable for affordable housing. However, as of March of this year, only 19 of the properties have been offered by the department for development. A recent California State Auditor report found that process could be accelerated.
Sen. Dodd’s bill, Senate Bill 561, would speed development, codifying the governor’s order and requiring transparency and reporting on the long-term leasing of surplus land to the Legislature. In addition, it would incorporate key recommendations from the State Auditor’s report to facilitate the identification of additional excess state property and the ultimate creation of more affordable housing.
It passed the Assembly and Senate with overwhelming support and heads next to the governor for his signature.