Affordable homebuilding and homeownership boosted by Habitat state budget victory
Affordable homebuilding received a significant boost in June 2022 when the CalHome program was funded to the tune of $350 million in the California 2022–2023 state budget.
CalHome is the only state program that supports the construction of homes for affordable home ownership. For more than two decades it has been an essential driver for homebuilding across CA, including our own most-recently built development in Daly City.
CalHome’s inclusion in the budget followed months of negotiations between the legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom, whose initial proposals failed to feature this key program. It marked the culmination of a Habitat-led grassroots campaign to #FullyFundCalHome and it represents a resounding victory for the thousands of Habitat supporters and advocates who pressed for action. They were joined by a bipartisan group of state assembly members and senators who recognized the role affordable homeownership plays in the housing ecosystem in their districts and who strongly championed the funding request.
These leaders included Assembly members Marc Berman (AD24), Marc Levine (AD10), and Kevin Mullin (AD22), along with state senators Josh Becker (SD13), Mike McGuire (SD2), and Scott Wiener (SD11). And, of course, chair of the Assembly budget committee, San Francisco’s Phil Ting (AD19), was instrumental in our success.
Because of this staunch backing, CalHome will receive $250 million one-time funding for financial year 2022–23 and a further $100 million for financial year 2023–24.
In addition, the signed budget includes more than $2 billion over two years for affordable housing production in California across a variety of programs.
At Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, we see every day the unparalleled ability that homeownership has to support families and strengthen communities across California. This funding will help put ownership within reach for thousands more Californians and allow them to access the greatest of equity-building tools: homeownership.
We saw this powerfully demonstrated last month when we welcomed six new homeowner families into their homes on Geneva Avenue in Daly City. These homes, like so many others, are a CalHome success story, having been built on a foundation of financing provided by the program.
Alongside this budget success, legislation is making progress in Sacramento to make sure that this funding can be used to best effect by affordable developers.
Although building and development costs have increased precipitously in recent years, the maximum amounts of support each home and each project could access via CalHome remained flat. The resulting gulf between higher costs, on the one hand, and static subsidy levels, on the other, unnecessarily impedes construction across California at a time when our state is dealing with its worst housing crisis since the 1950s.
AB2217, authored by Assembly majority leader Eloise Gomez Reyes, aims to boost homebuilding by encouraging CalHome administrators to raise the maximum amounts that can be awarded to specific projects.
By better reflecting the realities of homebuilding, not least escalating costs, the legislation will maximize the utility of the new funding and will give a shot in the arm to hard-pressed affordable developers in some of the most challenging housing markets.
California has the lowest rate of homeownership in the nation, coupled with the second largest housing deficit. The homeownership we do have has a long legacy of flawed exclusionary housing policies that has excluded communities of color. As of 2019, 41% of black families and 49% of Latino families owned their own homes, compared with 68% of white families and 66% of Asian families.
Because CalHome is currently fully funded we have an enormous opportunity to build more homes, help more families access affordable homeownership, and ensure they begin to accrue the equity they would otherwise unnecessarily have been denied.
Thank you to all of our supporters for the emails, calls and posts highlighting this crucial housing issue which made such a pivotal difference to the outcome. Habitat For Humanity Greater San Francisco, along with Habitat affiliates across California, will continue our work to ensure ownership opportunities for working families are recognized in the state budget each year, every year.
To stay up to date on Habitat For Humanity Greater San Francisco’s advocacy work, please follow us on Twitter @HabitatGSF.