California Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins and other Democrats unveiled a proposal aimed at creating more affordable housing across the state.

The Assembly Democrats plan includes:

  • Establishing a permanent source of funding for affordable housing by placing a small fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding home sales;
  • Increasing the state housing tax credit program by $300 million;
  • Approving legislation to create a framework for how California will spend any funds received from the National Housing Trust Fund that are expected to flow to states in 2016; and
  • Using a portion of the Proposition 47 funds to reduce recidivism through investment in rapid rehousing and housing supports for formerly incarcerated Californians.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announces an affordable housing plan for the state. (Photo Courtesy of the Assembly Democratic Caucus)
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announces an affordable housing plan for the state. (Photo Courtesy of the Assembly Democratic Caucus)

“Housing instability is affecting more people than ever before, including more young people and families,” said Atkins. “To make inroads against California’s housing issues, the Assembly is taking a comprehensive approach to increasing the amount of affordable housing in our state.”

The proposed permanent funding source would generate hundreds of millions annually for affordable housing and leverage billions of dollars in federal, local, and bank investment, according to Atkins.

Housing advocates have been seeking a permanent source of funding for years. A little more than a year ago, they had high hopes for a bill seeking to establish a $75 recording fee on real estate-related documents, excluding all home and commercial property sales. However, the bill failed to pass. The new proposal revives the idea of a $75 fee to raise funds for affordable housing.

This time, the fee idea is part of a broader plan–a package that also wants to increase state housing credits and set a foundation for deploying national trust fund dollars

Atkins was joined in Los Angeles by other state and local leaders, including new state Treasurer John Chiang, who oversees the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee.

“The lack of affordable housing in California is likely the number one threat to our economy and way of life. Just yesterday, one of the nation’s largest credit rating agencies cited the high cost of housing as not only a credit weakness, but a major drag on our business climate,” he said. “If we do not address this shortage, many will be priced out of their homes or driven to find housing farther and farther away from their jobs and communities. The Speaker's housing proposals will increase the financing available to build truly affordable units. As Treasurer, I will do everything within my power to make sure that financing is accessible and is used to put roofs over the heads of California's working families.”

Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF.