Tech, developer foundations to California: Go big on housing

After years of legislative defeats of bold housing reform, affordable housing advocates have formed a nascent coalition including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, other major nonprofits and lawmakers to push a 10-year plan to boost development and end homelessness.

The California Housing Partnership on Tuesday released the Roadmap Home 2030 plan, backed by CZI and the nonprofit Irvine and Hilton foundations. The coalition marks a step-up in political pressure by the nonprofit arms of a major tech entrepreneur and prominent developers.

Key goals of the plan include bringing more housing to minority communities, increased public funding, and added protections against discrimination.

Matt Schwartz, CEO of the California Housing Partnership, said the new initiative is setting clear goals over a decade to address chronic problems of homelessness, inequality and lagging development.

“It feels like we’re starting over again each year,” Schwartz said. “At some point, you wake up and it feels like Groundhog Day, every day.”

State lawmakers have seen several bold reform efforts flame out in Sacramento in recent years, including an overhaul of local zoning policies known as SB 50 and a slate of priority housing measures that failed to cross the finish line in last year’s pandemic-shortened session.

California has the highest housing costs — both for buying and renting — in the U.S. The Bay Area median home price has swelled to more than $1 million in five of its nine counties.

Ruby Bolaria Shifrin, director of housing affordability at CZI, said the plan is a long-term, holistic approach to housing policy that’s needed to address the state’s housing crisis. Shifrin believes bringing together a coalition of grassroots groups is key to meaningful change in Sacramento.

“We believe everybody deserves a safe, stable, affordable place to call home,” she said.

The Roadmap Home 2030 plan, designed and led by nonprofits Housing California and the California Housing Partnership, lays out general housing goals to address  long-term state housing needs.

The immediate plan calls for more support for affordable housing to create or preserve 245,000 affordable homes, save 90,000 unsubsidized affordable units, and provide housing and support services to 1 million low income Californians annually.

The plan calls for $10 billion in bonds for affordable housing, as well as expansion of the state’s Project Homekey program to buy and rehabilitate housing for the homeless. It also seeks a permanent extension of the $500 million low income housing tax credit to boost development.

The authors plan to reveal more complete policy proposals in March. Schwartz said the initial plan was deliberately broad to allow lawmakers to find the legislative solutions that can win support from groups as diverse as labor, NIMBY and YIMBY activists, cities and equality advocates.

The plan is also backed by the chairmen of state legislative housing committees, San Francisco Democrats Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu.

“Small solutions don’t solve big problems,” said Wiener, author of SB 50 and several other housing reform bills. “While we have taken important strides these past few years, it’s clear to me that it’s time we had a long-term comprehensive plan 

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