SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown put his signature Friday on bills aimed at tackling the affordable housing crisis in California, which needs an estimated 1.5 million more homes and apartments to satisfy demand from those priced out of the soaring market.
Brown signed the 15 bills in San Francisco, where the need is especially acute. An average one-bedroom apartment there rents for more than $3,000, and the median home price is about $1.5 million.
The legislative package, hammered out during months of negotiations and passed by lawmakers as the session ended earlier this month, would funnel new money from a ballot initiative and a real estate transaction fee toward subsidizing low-income housing projects and roll back regulations that have slowed construction in many areas.
Senate leader Kevin de Leon and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, both Democrats, were among a throng of lawmakers and housing advocates who cheered Brown on the manicured lawn of a San Francisco affordable housing complex in Hunter’s Point, an impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood the city hopes to transform over the next decade into an affordable housing hub.
Brown acknowledged the bills only begin to tackle the problem, a sentiment echoed by many.
“We cannot move past today and just check the box, say we’ve done housing and move onto something else,” said Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat who sponsored one of the bills. “When you spend 50 years driving your car into a ditch that means it’s a really deep ditch.”
The contrast in home and rental prices between California and the rest of the nation is stark. Median home prices are about double the national mark, and rents are 50 percent higher.
For decades, California has failed to build enough units to meet demand, particularly in popular coastal cities such as San Francisco. The state needs to build 100,000 additional affordable units annually just to keep up with demand, according to a Legislative Analyst’s Office report.