FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2019
SACRAMENTO – While California’s housing crisis continues to crush the poor, a new study shows that funding for affordable housing production and preservation in Sacramento County over the last decade has dramatically plummeted amid a local shortfall of more than 60,000 affordable homes and apartments.
The Sacramento Housing Alliance and Sacramento Area Congregations Together will hold a press conference on Tuesday, May 21, in front of City Hall at 1 p.m., to discuss the findings contained in the 2019 Sacramento County Emergency Housing Update. In addition, speakers will address the failure thus far to include any funds for affordable housing in the City of Sacramento’s new budget, despite last year’s passage of Measure U which was promoted in part as a resource to address the city’s affordable housing shortfall. The press conference also will address recommendations to combat our continuing affordable housing crisis.
Produced by the nonprofit California Housing Partnership, in collaboration with the Sacramento Housing Alliance, the update found that in the 2017-18 fiscal year, total state and federal funding to build new affordable housing in Sacramento County and to protect what was already there fell by 68 percent compared to the levels from 2008-09.
The report documented the drop from $67.5 million in Sacramento County’s affordable housing funding nine years ago to $21.4 million in the last fiscal year, with the elimination of redevelopment programs and the depletion of previous housing bonds accounting for the bulk of the decrease.
Cathy Creswell, board president of the Sacramento Housing Alliance, said the study highlights the need to make affordable housing financing a top priority for the Sacramento City Council when it decides how to distribute the new Measure U revenues approved last year by the city voters.
“It’s clear that voters approved Measure U to change business as usual, to fundamentally alter how Sacramento invests in its people and communities,” said Creswell, who also is a member of the Measure U Advisory Committee. “The growing crisis highlighted in this report must compel the city to make significant new investments in the development of affordable homes, especially for renters of modest means, and to provide safe and stable homes for people experiencing homelessness.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg strongly supports the idea of directing a portion of the new Measure U funds towards affordable housing.
“In the City of Sacramento, Measure U gives us the opportunity to have a real Housing Trust Fund that will allow us to help bridge the funding gap for projects that will address the severe shortage of affordable housing for our residents,” Steinberg said. “Thank you to the Sacramento Housing Alliance for recommending a comprehensive approach to this statewide crisis, of which a local funding source is a key piece.”
Creswell, and other SHA Board members will be attending Tuesday’s press conference, along with two pastors from Sacramento ACT, a faith-based social justice advocacy organization that represents 60,000 families through 56 schools, churches, and neighborhood organizations.
“We want to make sure that the city is investing in our communities, without displacing families,” said Sacramento ACT Executive Director Gabby Trejo. “We believe that everybody deserves a decent place to live that they can afford. Sacramento city and county desperately need a plan to address our regions housing crisis.”
Although Measure U funding is a city-wide concern, the lack of affordable housing is a crisis that affects low-income people throughout Sacramento County. According to the California Housing Partnership study, communities in Sacramento County needs to build 63,118 new affordable rental homes to ease the burden on the county’s poorest families. That is an increase from last year’s identified need of 58,552 such homes.
The study showed that with the county’s median rent ballooning to $1,445 a month, a wage earner needs to make $27.79 an hour to afford it. California’s minimum wage of $12 an hour – and the similarly low pay scales for workers in Sacramento’s retail, janitorial, and other low-wage sectors – puts the cost of an average apartment well out of reach for the county’s most cost-burdened residents.
To help solve the crisis, the California Housing Partnership recommends that the state provide local governments with $1 billion a year for affordable housing production to make up for the loss of the shuttered redevelopment programs. The Partnership wants the state to expand its low-income housing tax credit program by $500 million annually, to create a new capital gains tax credit program for affordable housing investment, and to reduce voter thresholds on affordable housing and infrastructure bond measures from 67 percent to 55 percent.
For local governments in Sacramento County, the Sacramento Housing Alliance recommends more local public investment in affordable housing, including a significant portion of Measure U revenues in the City of Sacramento. SHA also is calling for tenant protections against exorbitant rent increases, unfair evictions, and substandard dwellings, as well as an end to landlord discrimination against renters who use housing vouchers. Additionally, the Sacramento Housing Alliance wants all local governments to adopt or strengthen requirements that market rate developers set aside a portion of new residential construction for affordable homes or dedicate land to ensure that affordable homes can be built elsewhere.
“SHA is committed to working with all local governments in Sacramento County to ensure everyone has a safe, accessible and affordable place to call home,” Creswell said. “As this report shows, we need a local government response that matches the scale of our crisis. In the face of the growing human tragedy of homelessness and the displacement of families from our county because of high rents and inadequate affordable homes, we need our local leaders to stand with us and dedicate the needed resources to end this catastrophe NOW.”
For more information on the California Housing Partnership’s emergency update for Sacramento County, please see: https://sachousingalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/Sacramento-Housing-Needs-Report-2019.pdf