NLIHC state coalition partner California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH) is working to avoid potentially devastating state cuts to affordable housing in rural areas of California. After an almost year-long fight to preserve the state’s redevelopment agencies’ housing funds (see Memo, 3/18), the California Legislature passed two bills at the close of the session, signed by Governor Jerry Brown (D), that jeopardize the future of redevelopment. These agencies generate about $1 billion annually for affordable housing production and preservation.
The first bill, AB 26, would eliminate redevelopment agencies and authorize successor agencies to disburse remaining housing funds, but not generate new dollars for housing. Companion bill AB 27, however, would enable redevelopment agencies to stay in business if they “voluntarily” agree to remit funds to the state to cover a portion of the budget deficit for FY11 and successive years.
The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities have filed suit, claiming the laws violate 2008’s voter-approved Proposition 22 prohibiting the state from borrowing or taking redevelopment funds to balance the state budget. The California Supreme Court is scheduled to issue a final ruling by January 15, 2012, when the first payments to the state are due.
If AB 26 and AB 27 are upheld, CCRH plans to work with other housing and legal services advocates to resurrect major redevelopment reform legislation, SB 450, vetoed by the Governor this year. This legislation would deepen income targeting for redevelopment of low and moderate income housing, cap administrative costs, require funds be committed and used for housing within a reasonable time period, and create greater transparency.
Because of the current threat to housing funds, CCRH is currently working to achieve a new, permanent state revenue stream for housing, capitalized by non-bond and non-budget funds through document recording fees. To gain bipartisan support, advocates will emphasize the jobs that will be created and how stabilizing the housing market will benefit the entire state. CCRH is raising funds to launch a media campaign in rural communities and hire community organizers to help change public opinion. “We plan to reach out to low income residents, faith-based organizations, trade associations and other constituency groups to generate new affordable housing funds at a time when California needs it most,” says CCRH Executive Director Rob Wiener.