AB 309: Newsom Vetoes Social Housing Bill in California

1 min read
October 8, 2023
California Capitol Building
Photo by W K on Unsplash

The California Legislature proposed a solution to the state’s severe housing problem. More than two in five households in California spend over 30% of their income on housing. Assemblymember Alex Lee introduced AB 309, a bill named the “Social Housing Act”, which was vetoed by Newsom on Saturday. The bill’s goal is to boost the creation and acquisition of owned, mixed-income housing. It drew inspiration from successful models in Vienna and Singapore.

About of the Social Housing Bill:

AB 309 defines social housing as publicly owned, mixed-income housing with the purpose of providing equitable and affordable housing while staying out of market speculation.

While California made some progress on making it easier to build, you still need the state to build units like it did before the 1970s. Overpriced rents cut California’s GDP by around 2%. Each year, over 600,000 people leave the state. Why? It’s not because of a tax burden lower and a GDP per Capita higher than Texas. People are just searching for more affordable housing.

Program Creation: The bill introduced the Social Housing Program. Where? Under the Department of General Services. Its mission? Develop social housing on state-owned property and aim for a future where Californians don’t spend more than 30% of their income on housing by 2050

City and County Role: Cities and counties had specific roles. They couldn’t deny these housing projects. However, they would be part of the design review. They would ensure projects meet public health and safety standards.

The Reaction

“I’m extremely disappointed that AB 309, The Social Housing Act, has been vetoed by the Governor,” Assemblymember Lee said. “The bill would have brought a monumental and much needed change in California—the paradigm shift in providing housing as a fundamental and universal right. That’s the vision which has guided my social housing legislation ever since I took office three years ago. 

What’s Next

California’s housing dilemma persists. Rents remain steep. Affordable homes are scarce. What will the state’s next move be? It’s uncertain.

However, advocates like Assemblymember Alex Lee keep the conversation alive. The pursuit of improved housing in California marches on.

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