SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — With California predicting a $50 billion budget surplus, affordable housing advocates are making their case about how that money should be spent.
The Housing Now coalition gathered at the State Capitol steps to call for nearly $1 billion for affordable housing and homeowner protections.
The group called for four areas of spending: $500 million to prevent displacement, $150 million to protect people from eviction, $200 million for housing assistance for former criminal offenders and $65 million in restitution for people who lost homes as a result of attempted clean energy upgrades.
Their proposed displacement prevention would come in the form of CAPP, the Community Anti-Displacement Preservation Program. Community groups would buy properties to protect them as affordable housing.
“We have a fighting chance to stop speculators to stop corporate landlords from buying up the housing that we need,” said Andres Ramos, legislative counsel at Public Advocates.
The eviction protection would help fund legal defense for people facing eviction.
“If I’m represented by an attorney, maybe yes I will win, but if I go in there by myself, I am going to be homeless with my kids,” said a speaker at the rally.
Assembly Bill 1816 seeks to create a program that would help former criminal offenders get stable housing after finishing their sentence. According to the bill, about half of people experiencing homelessness say they have been incarcerated.
“For too long we have been locked after having done everything that society says we need to do,” said Saun G. Hough, with Californians for Safety and Justice.
The restitution the group wants would go to homeowners like Rhonda Surles who lost their homes or their equity after signing up for the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program. Surles said she and others had contractors do poor, incomplete or even no work at all, but it still left them on the hook for a higher property tax bill.
“Just mentally, I’m just gone. I mean that’s a lot of money, $147,000,” Surles said.
The activists are calling on the legislature to back the measures, saying the efforts to keep people in their homes is also essential to stop the homelessness crisis from getting worse.