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Affordable Housing Bill Clears First Hurdle in California Legislature

Legislation to address California’s affordable housing crisis cleared its first hurdle at the state Capitol this week, passing out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee.
Senate Bill 2, also known as The Building Homes and Jobs Act, would impose a $75 recording fee on real estate documents, excluding property sales.

Similar bills have failed to make it out of the Legislature in recent years. Advocates say SB 2 would create a permanent funding stream for affordable housing, helping replace some of the more than $1 billion lost annually when the state eliminated redevelopment in 2011.

The bill’s author, Democratic State Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego, told Capital Public Radio there’s a greater focus on affordable housing this year. 

“The housing crisis has only gotten deeper and more difficult for people in California who are trying to rent. It’s hit the middle class. It isn’t just low-income Californians,” the state senator said.  

Atkins said the fee would generate close to $250 million annually. Funds would go toward workforce housing, rental housing for farm workers and transitional housing, among other causes.

Gov. Jerry Brown has advocated for cutting regulations to spur affordable housing but has not proposed new funding to solve the state’s crisis.

The County Recorders’ Association of California is opposed to the bill, saying it represents a burden on small contractors and others who must frequently record real estate documents. The Inyo County Board of Supervisors has also opposed the legislation.

Supporters say state lawmakers are feeling more pressure this year to pass this bill.

“They’re getting calls like never before from their constituency from people at all income levels asking them to do something to address the crisis. And we’re hearing that from legislators,” said Tyrone Buckley of Housing California, an advocacy group that is co-sponsoring the bill. 

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