SP Urges Regional Housing Strategy

South Pasadena is officially behind a state Senate measure that would push a regional approach to funding affordable housing.

The city issued a statement last week urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign Senate Bill 5, co-authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino, that would establish a state partnership with cities and counties to provide ongoing funding to subsidize affordable housing.

City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe said the legislation would help South Pasadena and other cities address affordable housing and homeless issues.

The measure would establish a new, state-backed financing program that provides cities and counties the resources to subsidize affordable housing, invest in infrastructure needed to support housing and invest in housing near job centers.

SB 5 commits $200 million in funding annually to cities and counties beginning in 2020, eventually capping at $2 billion annually.

The city said that, when the state abolished redevelopment in 2011, it wiped out the only source of ongoing funding available to local governments to build affordable housing and supporting infrastructure — leaving more and more families priced out as the homeless population has exploded.

Today, more than 2.2 million extremely low-income and very low-income renter households are competing for only 664,000 affordable rental homes, the city statement said. That leaves more than 1.5 million of California’s lowest-income families without access to housing, forcing many into homelessness.

According to the city statement: “SB 5 contains strong accountability provisions. The legislation creates a statewide oversight body to approve or reject all projects proposed by local governments. Additionally, cities and counties must submit annual reports to the Legislature.

“SB 5 creates an annual cap on funds available, and the Legislature can suspend funding for new plans during fiscal downturns. Lastly, SB 5 provides state resources to ensure funding for schools and community colleges are not impacted.

“SB 5 is supported by a broad coalition of cities, counties, business, labor, local governments, housing advocates and community leaders.’’

The city’s efforts to rally support for SB5 was not taken up by the City Council, but rather falls within its “legislative advocacy package,” meaning the bill meets certain criteria that  permit staff to speak on behalf of the city, said John Pope, the city’s public information officer.