Time for North County to get on board with housing package

What issue is so universal it brings together diverse groups like the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, California Building Industry Association, California Association of Realtors, social justice and environmental advocates, business and organized labor, veterans, seniors, the LGBT community and people with disabilities?

Access to affordable homes is critical to everyone in our community, and a package of bills championed by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) offers California the opportunity to start building again after most affordable construction has ground to a halt.

With so much support from all over the spectrum, it is surprising that our North County Assemblymembers haven’t supported this groundbreaking legislation.

Every San Diegan knows that the cost of housing in the region is too high. Rarely a week goes by without a study identifying San Diego as one of — if not the — most expensive places to live.

Most recently, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach report concludes that the annual income needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in San Diego County is $55,600, meaning a minimum wage worker would have to work 119 hours per week — or three full-time jobs — just to pay the rent. Even when the average San Diegan does somehow manage to pay their rent, this means these individuals — working families, seniors, veterans and others on fixed income — do not have sufficient funds to pay for transportation costs to get to work, utilities, healthy foods or health care.

To remedy this growing crisis throughout California, the state legislature is considering strategies to create more affordable housing statewide. The centerpiece of this package is Assembly Bill (‘AB’) 1335, Atkins’ (AD 78) legislation that will provide a stable and permanent source of funding to build affordable homes for people in need.

Having a dedicated funding source is critical to provide developers with the certainty they need to spend the years it takes to build such affordable communities.

It is necessary to make up for the loss of redevelopment funds that used to provide an ongoing source of funding to the tune of approximately $86 million annually in San Diego and over $1 billion statewide. It is essential in San Diego, which as recently reported by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, has a staggering shortfall of 142,564 homes affordable to lower income San Diegans, the second highest total of any county in the state.

Veterans groups have gotten behind AB 1335 as they recognize San Diego is home to nearly 39,000 post-9/11 veterans, the highest concentration in the nation, many of whom are now or soon will be in need of stable, affordable homes.

Homeless advocacy groups are onboard as we continue to move to a proven “housing first” model that demonstrates the most important factor in getting people off the street is to provide a safe and stable home.

The LGBT community supports affordable housing as they recognize that up to 40 percent of homeless youth are from the LGBT community — separated from their families and in need of stable homes.

And the business community is supportive of AB 1335 as they recognize the San Diego region will no longer be competitive for business if workers cannot afford to live here.

With this broad-based community support, AB 1335 has yet to receive support from our three North County legislators — Assemblymembers Brian Maienschein, Rocky Chavez and Marie Waldron. While these legislators have been advocates for veterans’ issues, the homeless and enhancing the climate for local business, they have yet to commit to supporting this legislation that will provide the critical tools to address issues they care so deeply about when it comes to a floor vote in the Assembly by June 5.

We call upon all legislators throughout the region to support the entirety of the affordable homes package, including AB 1335, and ask upon all San Diegans to contact their local legislators in support of these measures.

As San Diego Housing Federation’s Executive Director, Bruce Reznik leads the organization in its efforts to ensure all San Diegans, regardless of income, can afford a safe and stable place to call home. 

About the San Diego Housing Federation 

The San Diego Housing Federation is a broad coalition of organizations and advocates that work to ensure all San Diegans, regardless of income, have access to a safe, stable and affordable place they can call home.  

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