Governor Fast-Tracks the Creation of 5550 Homes

Affordable Housing Development photo courtesy the Governor’s Office

Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – On Monday, Governor Newsom announced the funding of 975 affordable homes across 10 statewide projects as part of the Excess Land for Affordable Housing program. By identifying and utilizing excess state properties, California is on track to deliver approximately 5,550 housing units on excess state land, which will help an estimated 13,600 individuals.

Governor Newsom previously directed state agencies to identify excess state-owned land to be used for affordable housing.

On Monday, he provided the funding for nearly 1,000 more affordable homes on excess state land, bringing the total of housing in the works to 5,550 units.

In the midst of a housing crisis, the state is attempting to deploy a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the housing needs of Californians.

By using state-owned property, projects can be streamlined and circumvent endless delays by communities looking to avoid building their fair share of housing.

“From day one of my Administration, we have taken unprecedented action to tackle the housing crisis, one of the most pressing challenges facing our state,” Newsom said.

The Governor added, “We’re using every available tool, including the conversion of excess state property into affordable housing to build more, faster. Cities and counties should follow the state’s lead and review their own inventory of excess land to catalyze the construction of more affordable housing throughout the state.”

The Governor’s office believes, “These investments will, in turn, match more than $80 million in collaborative funding committed by cities, counties, and public housing authorities where the new projects are located.”

“The Excess Sites program allows for a unique collaboration with our local government partners, to build affordable housing on underutilized sites and optimize limited fiscal resources through matching grants,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “These sites largely have easy access to transit and proximity to critical amenities, providing Californians with housing stability and connecting them to opportunity.”

Senator Bill Dodd, who represents Yolo as well as parts of Napa, Sonoma, Solano and other counties, was pleased with the development.

“It is critical that the state looks at all options at our disposal to solve our housing crisis,” Senator Dodd said. “Developing excess state property for housing is a meaningful piece of that. It builds on my own legislation encouraging housing projects on suitable state land. I appreciate the governor for continuing to lead on these efforts.”

In 2022, Dodd wrote Senate Bill 561, which advances earlier initiatives to create affordable housing on excess state property. SB 561, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom, helps satisfy an affordable housing shortfall of about 100,000 units per year.

In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order calling on HCD and the Department of General Services to address the state’s affordable housing crisis by identifying underutilized state-owned sites for the development of affordable housing, taking into account factors such as proximity to job centers, amenities, and public transit.

Excess sites projects, by virtue of being on state land, are subject to a simpler and more streamlined approval process than projects on locally controlled land. This expedites the approval process and avoids the exhaustive maneuvers used by some groups and local officials to prevent projects from moving forward.

To support and accelerate implementation of the Governor’s excess sites order, HCD established LGMG (Local Government Matching Grants) to provide grant-based funding to match certain local government funding for selected developers to support predevelopment and development of affordable housing on excess state sites.

The Governor’s office noted, “This collaboration between the state and local governments helps to expedite the delivery of affordable housing across the state to meet the goal of developing 2.5 million new homes by 2030, with one million homes being affordable for lower income levels.”

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