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California Senate Votes to Relieve State’s Housing Crisis

Housing in California was a point of contention for the state Senate Friday, as several bills were up for vote after they passed through the Assembly late last night.

Senate Bills 2, 3 and 35 have been the headliners in a package of bills designed to help the housing crisis. These bills have passed through Senate once before, but because the California Assembly made some amendments last night before passing the bills, they had to return to the Senate again.

Designers of Senate Bill 2 say it would impose a $75 charge on real estate transactions with the goal of generating over $200 million dollars to combat homelessness and create low-income housing opportunities. Opponents of the bill say this $75 fee is essentially another tax and that legislators can’t expect to spend their way out of the housing issue.

Senate Bill 2 passed with a 27 to 11 vote.

Senate Bill 3 also passed with a 30 to 8 vote. Writers of the bill say it would place a $4 billion bond on the November 2018 ballot that will work towards housing projects. Of that bond, $1 billion would be focused on veterans and enable former military personnel to receive financial help when purchasing a home.

The third bill of note is Senate Bill 35, which creators of the bills say aims to require cities and counties to form development plans for land usage, including housing. These plans would allow for the process of approving housing projects to be streamlined.

California legislators estimate the state is lacking over a million affordable housing units and State Treasurer John Chiang released this statement following the passage of most of the bills presented:

“California’s housing shortage has metastasized from a problem to a crisis to, now, a full-scale catastrophe. But with today’s approval of a $4 billion housing bond, a permanent source of funding and regulatory reform to ease construction, we are making a meaningful down payment on providing a roof and four walls to every Californian.”

Chiang added that it is premature to celebrate and more work remains for the housing crisis in the state.

If these bills do pass through Senate, they will make their way to Governor Brown’s desk for his signature.