Dodd’s affordable housing bill gets signed into law

New law would turn more state properties into housing, where appropriate.|

Affordable housing legislation penned by Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, was signed into law on Sept. 19 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The bill would identify excess state property that could be used for development, advancing earlier initiatives from the governor to address the state housing crisis.

“Rapid creation of affordable housing is vital to Californians experiencing increased homelessness and instability because of extreme prices, and this signing by Gov. Newsom is an important step toward achieving that goal,” Dodd said. “We must continue to prioritize the use of excess state land to accelerate construction of these much-needed units. This new action 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.

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.

SB 561 will require the state Department of General Services to identify surplus state land that can be used for affordable housing. It will speed development, codifying the governor’s order and requiring transparency and reporting to the Legislature on the long-term leasing of surplus land. 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.

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