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Prop. 1 Would Allow California To Borrow Billions For Affordable Housing Programs

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A housing development in Lincoln, Calif.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

While California's Proposition 1 is called the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, only a quarter of the money goes to housing programs for vets.

The initiative is aimed at easing the state's housing crisis and has broad support throughout the state. If approved, it would authorize the state to borrow $4 billion for a variety of housing programs.

The largest share of that money — $1.5 billion — would go to the Multifamily Housing Program, which helps fund affordable rental housing projects through loans. Another $1 billion would go to the Cal-Vet Farm and Home Loan Program, which offers loans to veterans.

The remaining money is spread between several groups that support affordable housing projects through loans and grants.

Rachel Iskow with the Sacramento Housing Alliance says money would help a broad spectrum of groups affected by the housing crisis.

"Seniors, people with disabilities, homeless individuals, working families with kids," Iskow says. "People who are just getting shut out of both the rental and for-sale markets."

Supporters include the California League of Women Voters, which says the money would also open up sources of federal dollars. Iskow agrees, saying local jurisdictions and affordable housing developers will be required to bring in more funding.

"That $4 billion will leverage a whole lot more money, double or more than that," she says.

David Wolfe is with the the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which opposed the bill in the Legislature that led to Prop. 1 but hasn't taken an official position on the initiative.

"You know, we don't dispute the need, but the question again comes down to bang for the buck,” says Wolfe. “We've done nothing to solve the overarching problem of making it more affordable to build in California."

If approved, the state would pay off the bonds over the next 35 years at an average rate of $170 million annually.

The California Democratic Party supports Prop. 1, while the state Republican Party opposes it.

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