June 1, 2012 (San Diego)– State legislation that would have generated $500 million annually for the construction of affordable housing in California failed to reach the necessary two-thirds vote in the State Senate today and is dead for the year.
“Today’s vote is a disturbing reminder of how little our state is doing to address its lack of affordable housing and ailing economy,” said San Diego Housing Federation Executive Director Susan Tinsky. “This legislation would have put construction workers back on the job, generated billions of dollars in economic activity, and provided safe and affordable apartments for veterans, seniors, families, and people with disabilities.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 1220, would have assessed a $75 fee on various real estate transactions, excluding the sale of homes or commercial property. Currently, 39 states have a dedicated revenue source for affordable housing, including 11 with systems similar to that proposed in SB 1220. California has no dedicated funding source.
The two-thirds vote is required for all fee-based bills. Legislators from San Diego County were split on the measure, with Sens. Christine Kehoe and Juan Vargas voting for it, and Joel Anderson, Mimi Walters, and Mark Wyland voting against.
SB 1220 enjoyed broad support, including that of affordable housing organizations, labor unions, and business entities like the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, California Building Industry Association, California Realtors Association, and California Apartment Association.
Funding for affordable housing faces a huge void following the end of redevelopment agencies, which devoted $1 billion annually toward the construction of income-restricted apartments, and the near exhaustion of $5 billion in related bonds approved by California voters in 2000 and 2006.
According to the San Diego Foundation’s recent survey of 30,000 county residents, the second-most pressing concern is the lack of affordable homes. In addition, a group of economists testified before a San Diego City Council committee in February 2012 that high housing costs is one of the county’s main impediments to growth.