Home California California Social Housing Act Introduced by Assemblymember Alex Lee

California Social Housing Act Introduced by Assemblymember Alex Lee

Press Release

by ECT
Assemblyman Alex Lee

Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San José) introduced AB 2053 to establish Social Housing in California. AB 2053 will create the California Housing Authority (CHA) to produce and preserve mixed-income homes that are union built, sustainable, collectively owned, affordable for all income levels, and are financially self-sustaining.

While the average Californian earns $63,783 annually, the median price of a home is roughly $800,000, more than double the national average. In California, more than two in five households currently spend over 30% of their income on housing, and more than one in five households spend over 50% of their income on housing. Families who pay more than 30% of their income for housing are considered rent burdened by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and can have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.

Due to the high cost of living, California has been losing lower and middle-income residents, and existing strategies to address the lack of affordable housing have not produced nearly enough to meet demand. Over 97% of cities and counties in California have been unable to produce enough affordable housing, and there are only enough affordable and available rentals for 24% of extremely low income households.

“Despite the dire need for affordable housing, the State does not directly provide housing for the millions in need. Social Housing will fix that,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee. “California needs all the tools we can to help tackle the housing crisis, and learning from successive models around the world, we can create mixed-income, safe, and dignified housing for all strata of society through social housing.”

Social housing is defined as publicly backed, self-sustaining housing that accommodates a mix of household income ranges.

Social housing benefits:

  • Social housing is protected from being sold to a private for-profit entity for the duration of its life, and residents are granted the same protections (if not stronger) as tenants in private properties.
  • Residents are able to participate in decision making, such as providing the resident perspective to property management or hosting meetings to gather feedback from residents.
  • Housing for people with higher incomes will subsidize low-income units and allow housing developments to become self-sustaining and revenue neutral. Remaining funds will be used for community development and repairs.

In contrast to public housing which began as segregated housing for low-income residents which concentrated poverty in locations which are socioeconomically isolated, social housing would develop mixed-income projects in desirable locations close to transit, parks, and recreation. By allowing for cross-subsidization as a social benefit, the goal is for tenants to spend no more than 30% of their income on rent.

Social housing has been successful across the globe, including CADA in Sacramento, several developments in Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as attractive, affordable housing for people of different income levels in Vienna and Singapore.

The bill is joint authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and co-authored by Senator Scott Wiener.

“It is imperative the Legislature continue to explore creative housing models that provide opportunities for tenants and homeownership. Los Angeles is the epicenter of housing insecurity, and rapid gentrification is causing massive rent increases and making dreams of homeownership seem out of reach,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). “Policy initiatives, like social housing, will provide affordable housing options for Angelenos and Californians alike who continue to experience displacement and lack a housing safety net. The Legislature and local governments must work together to stabilize our housing crisis. I look forward to working on this very important measure.”

“With social housing, we can fill missing gaps, provide affordable housing for all, and move toward a more equitable future with mixed-income, safe, and dignified housing for all strata of society,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee.

Visit CaliforniaSocialHousing.org to learn more.



AB 2053, as introduced, Lee. The Social Housing Act.
Existing law establishes the Department of Housing and Community Development and sets forth its powers and duties. Existing law creates a housing authority in each county or city, which functions upon the adoption of a specified resolution by the relevant governing body. Existing law authorizes these housing authorities, within their jurisdictions, to construct, reconstruct, improve, alter, or repair all or part of any housing project. Existing law establishes various programs that provide housing assistance.
This bill would enact the Social Housing Act and would create the California Housing Authority, as an independent state body, the mission of which would be to produce and acquire social housing developments for the purpose of eliminating the gap between housing production and regional housing needs assessment targets, as specified. The bill would prescribe a definition of social housing that would describe, in addition to housing owned by the authority, housing owned by other entities, as specified, provided that all social housing developed by the authority would be owned by the authority. The bill would prescribe the composition of the California Housing Authority Board, which would govern the authority, and would be composed of appointed members and members who are elected by residents of social housing developments, as specified. The bill would prescribe the powers and duties of the authority and the board. The bill would provide that the authority is bound to revenue neutrality, as defined, and would require the authority to recover the cost of development and operations over the life of its properties through the mechanism of rent cross-subsidization, as defined. The bill would require the authority to prioritize the development of specified property, including vacant parcels and parcels near transit, and would prescribe a process for the annual determination of required social housing units. Under the bill, social housing would accommodate a mix of household income ranges and would provide specified protections for residents, who would participate in the operation and management of the units in which they reside.
This bill would require the California Housing Authority to employ 2 leasing models in social housing developments, to be referred to as the rental model and the ownership model, and would prescribe the characteristics of both models. Under the ownership model, the authority would extend a 99-year lease, in the form of a limited equity arrangement, as defined, to individuals who commit to a minimum 5-year term of residence, and would authorize the authority to act as a lender to residents who lease under the ownership model, for the purpose of creating leasehold mortgages. The bill would prescribe how the amounts of rents and payments on leasehold mortgages are to be set in relation to household income, and with reference to property subject to the ownership model, how they may be sold and transferred. The bill would establish eligibility requirements for social housing residents and provide for the selection of residents by lottery, providing that people who may have been displaced from a property as part of its development would be granted a preference for occupancy.
This bill, among other things, would require the authority to accept a local jurisdiction’s preference for a project parcel if specified conditions are met. The bill would prescribe requirements for the participation of labor in the production, rehabilitation, and maintenance of housing, including requiring the authority to enter into community workforce agreements, to obtain an enforceable commitment from an entity undertaking work for the authority, as specified, that the entity, and its contractors and subcontractors employ a skilled and trained workforce, and to comply with specified requirements for the payment of prevailing wages. The bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to provide financing for the activities of the authority through the issuance of general obligations bonds. The bill would authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds, as specified. The bill would require the board to provide for regular audits of the authority’s accounts and records, as specified.

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