Provide funding and legal backing for innovations in social housing, including a mix of public, private, and hybrid solutions.

BACKGROUND

California faces a severe housing crisis, with a shortage of affordable housing units at all income levels. The current system of relying on private developers to address the housing needs has proven insufficient, particularly for low- and middle-income renters. To address this challenge, we propose a policy that provides funding and legal backing for innovations in social housing across the state, including a mix of public, private, and public-private solutions. 

KEY FEATURES 

  • Financing and other support for publicly developed, mixed-income housing on public lands. 
  • Financing and other institutional support to massively scale up private social models of real estate ownership including cooperatives and community land trusts.
  • Accommodates a mix of household income levels to avoid prior mistakes of public housing that concentrated poverty and perpetuated segregation.
  • Funding prioritization for projects that advance California’s climate goals by locating mixed-income neighborhoods close to jobs, public amenities, and transit. 
  • Required to meet rigorous architectural and livability standards to make the housing appealing to people across the income spectrum; rents from higher-income residents then subsidize cheaper rents for lower-income residents.

IMPLEMENTATION AND SEQUENCING CONSIDERATIONS

  • Build on existing state policy (including Exec Order N-06-19; AB 1486 2019; AB 1255 2019) prioritizing affordable housing development on surplus public lands. 
  • More general policies promoting new forms of social capitalism in California, including worker-owned and resident-owned cooperatives, could help strengthen financing, technical assistance, and favorable policy support for real estate cooperatives and community land trusts.
  • Might need to be paired with a state constitutional amendment that relaxes existing rules requiring a vote of the public for every affordable housing project, by allowing representative bodies such as city and county governments to make these decisions.