Voice of San Diego: Gloria Bills Take on Middle-Income Housing, Homeless Youth

Friday, April 21, 2017
As excerpted from the Voice of San Diego:

San Diego’s Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria is stepping into the more than 100 housing bills being proposed in Sacramento with his own housing package. The package includes four bills written or co-written by Gloria, each trying to address a different aspect of the state’s housing and homelessness woes.

“This problem is so pervasive and it impacts so many sectors of our society,” Gloria said. “We need to address subsidized housing, supportive housing, market-rate production. One bill wouldn’t be enough.”

The first, AB 1193, would change the way property taxes work for low-income housing developers, allowing them to plan for a certain level of funds coming in from property taxes on certain units, so they can invest them in future maintenance, capital repairs and loan requirements. “The potential fluctuation in property taxes is a level of financial uncertainty,” Gloria said. “When the project’s manager has a predictable property tax assessment, that means the cash flow is pretty obvious and they don’t’ have to divert money from maintenance and upkeep to pay a property tax bill.”

The second, AB 1406, sponsored by Gloria and Assembly Housing Committee chair David Chiu, could increase the amount of money going to aid California’s homeless youth. Nearly a third of the nation’s homeless youth live in California yet the state until recently invested just $1.1 million annually in addressing the problem. San Diego County currently gets just $180,000 a year from the state to support a program run by nonprofit San Diego Youth Services. This bill would dole out $15 million in annual grants to up to 10 regions to fund services or housing assistance to homeless youth between 16 and 24 years old. “We need to do right by these kids and give them a better shot,” Gloria said. “This isn’t just a budget line.” San Diego Youth Services CEO Walter Philips, vice chair of statewide lobbying group California Coalition for Youth, has spent the past three years pushing for another $10 million on top of Gloria and Chiu’s pitch. “I think there’s still so many competing interests and concerns and some caution,” Philips said.

There’s also a competing bill. Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale has introduced a measure that would create a grant program for transitional housing focused on youth. Gloria said he’s talking to Lackey about his bill in hopes they can agree on an approach.

The third bill, AB 1505, co-written with Assemblyman Richard Bloom from Santa Monica, would allow cities to use their inclusionary housing policies for rental developments. Inclusionary housing policies require developers to either include low-income units in their developments or to instead pay a fee that goes to agencies like the San Diego Housing Commission to develop, fund and operate affordable housing. Right now, cities can only enforce those rules with for-sale projects and not with rental units. The bill wouldn’t force municipalities that don’t have inclusionary policies to adopt them, but would allow those that do to apply them to rental units.

The fourth bill,  AB 1637, would allow local housing authorities, like the San Diego Housing Commission, to get involved in mixed-income housing that contains some subsidized and some market rate units. Housing authorities traditionally deal exclusively with low-income housing. If the bill passes, they would be able to use certain funds for mixed-income properties, as long as at least 20 percent of the development was set aside for low-income housing. The bill originated from a report produced by the San Diego Housing Commission in 2015 that looked at San Diego’s housing affordability problem and is being sponsored by the city of San Diego.