Homelessness and housing bill advances with no funding, vague requirements

May 29, 2024

Cal Cities issued an action alert urging cities to call their lawmakers and voice their concerns

By Caroline Grinder, legislative affairs lobbyist   

Lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill that would add new income categories to the state’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA). The measure, sponsored by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is intended to help assess the needs of homeless residents and is based on a report on California's housing future.

Cal Cities will oppose the bill unless lawmakers amend it to clarify how these requirements differ from what cities are already doing and provide ongoing funding so that these plans actually result in new housing units.

The measure lacks key details about how these proposed categories — acutely low-income and extremely low-income — differ from what cities are planning for already through the very low-income category. It is critical lawmakers clarify these differences so that cities are not set up to fail — especially as they lose out on critical state funding.   

Asm. Chris Ward gutted and amended the measure, AB 3093, at the beginning of May. Legislators heard the bill in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee one week later and passed it out of the Appropriations Committee the very next day. Cal Cities provided lead opposition witness testimony in both committees.

Assembly lawmakers sent the bill to the Senate last week, giving the measure a clear path to the Governor’s desk by the end of August.

More red tape, less funding for housing and services

Asm. Ward introduced AB 3093 on the heels of the Governor’s May Revise, which proposed deep cuts to affordable housing programs and no new funding for the state’s flagship homelessness program. The Department of Housing and Community Development estimates the state will lose out on around 13,000 market-rate and affordable housing units, and 120,000 people will be unable to access needed services because of the cuts.

AB 3093, combined with these cuts, would require cities to plan for more housing without the funding needed to move those plans forward. Cal Cities Legislative Director Jason Rhine explained this to Politico when asked about the bill, saying, “[there’s] no money for the plan, no money for the programs, and then no money to construct the homes.”

Lawmakers also raised worries about how cities would be able to subsidize the housing AB 3093 requires cities to plan for during the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. Asm. Alex Lee was especially concerned, explaining, “The truth is to get these low-income units, you have to have deep subsidies … and so if you remove the subsidies in the budget, then how are we going to meet those goals?”

What’s next?

Cal Cities issued an action alert this morning urging cities to call their lawmakers to voice their opposition to AB 3093 unless it is amended to address cities' concerns. Cities are also encouraged to tell their lawmakers to reject the proposed affordable housing cuts and invest state funding into addressing homelessness.