California’s SB 1456 is a no-brainer. The bill, authored by State Sen. Henry Stern, creates a much-needed property tax exemption on 100 percent affordable-housing projects – and establishes a sustainable, barrier-free model that will greatly increase the construction of low-income and homeless housing. Housing Is A Human Right strongly supports SB 1456.
The legislation comes at a time when state and local governments and nonprofits are trying to build more low-income and homeless housing to address the ongoing housing affordability and homelessness crises in California.
For example, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, our parent organization, purchases old hotels and motels in the Los Angeles area and quickly transforms them into low-income and homeless housing. AHF has produced more than 1,300 affordable units in the past four years. (Above picture shows the opening of AHF’s King Edward Hotel in Downtown L.A.)
This adaptive reuse model has been praised by the RAND Corp. In a recent study, the nonprofit think tank found that it’s an effective concept for building affordable and homeless housing. But RAND economist Jason Ward said that “significant incentives” will be needed to “realize the full potential of adaptive reuse.” SB 1456 will provide one of those incentives.
Current law enacts a $20-million cap on property tax exemptions, which drives up the cost per unit for certain affordable-housing projects. In addition, that cap burdens nonprofit builders with tax liabilities – money that would otherwise go towards funding more units of affordable housing. SB 1456 will change that.
Much is at stake. The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have slammed hard-working Californians, who desperately need more affordable housing. And the state’s homelessness crisis continues to worsen, with more than 161,000 people living unhoused.
In addition, millions of low-income renters in California are rent-burdened and need affordable housing, and homeless and low-income communities are disproportionately represented by people of color, which highlights vast inequities in the access of housing.
Equally alarming, unhoused individuals are increasingly dying on the streets in the L.A. area and across the country.
State politicians must do everything they can to incentivize the timely construction of more low-income and homeless housing. Without question, lives hang in the balance. Housing Is A Human Right urges state elected officials to pass SB 1456.