Friday, February 12, 2021

California needs a 10-year roadmap to housing affordability and to end homelessness
By Matt Schwartz, California Housing Partnership
Lisa Hershey, Housing California

This commentary appeared as a CalMatters op-ed on February 12, 2021.

A clear path with strong mile markers will get us to our destination: stable, affordable homes for all in inclusive communities.

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his budget plan, which included big investments in affordable housing and homelessness. As leaders in California's affordable housing movement, we appreciate that these short-term investments will incrementally and meaningfully help to reduce homelessness, increase the supply of affordable housing, protect renters from eviction and discrimination, and address racial inequities that have plagued our state.

And we also need a strategic long-term plan with continuous and sustainable government investments to truly solve these challenges decades in the making. The Legislative Analyst's Office highlighted this problem in its assessment of the governor's budget, saying the state needs "a clear, long-term strategy" which would ensure the state's investments have "a meaningful ongoing impact on its housing and homelessness challenges."

Like teams that compete in the Super Bowl, the state needs a clear game plan, one that charts a path to long-term victory, not just to scoring a first-quarter touchdown.

On Jan. 26, Housing California and the California Housing Partnership unveiled a preview of the top priorities in California's Roadmap HOME 2030, which will be released on March 25. This comprehensive plan of bold, data-driven solutions centers racial equity and sets clear milestones for success. 

Developed over the past year by a diverse coalition and rooted in the belief that we are all stronger when every Californian has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home, the Roadmap HOME demonstrates how, over the next 10 years, the state can end homelessness, create 1.2 million affordable homes for those struggling the most and ensure that renters can stay in their homes - creating a California where everyone can thrive.

To solve - not prolong - the problems facing our state, we propose a package of synergistic solutions big and bold enough to get us there in 10 years. Our coalition's initial priorities include innovative and proven solutions that invest in our values, promote fairness, reimagine growth, protect people and build efficiency. They also right historical wrongs by directing housing resources toward those struggling the most, with an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color. 

Legislators can start now by enacting key elements of the Roadmap HOME including a new, ongoing investment to end homelessness, Assembly Bill 71, and a $10 billion affordable housing production bond, Senate Bill 5, along with measures to ensure greater accountability at both local and state levels in our full package.

Housing and homelessness are at the top of Californians' concerns, according to recent polling, and we demand bold action to help millions of our fellow neighbors rediscover the dream that brought so many people to this great state - opportunity for all, starting with a home. 

A clear path with strong mile markers will get us to our destination: stable, affordable homes for all in inclusive, prosperous and sustainable communities - the foundation that ensures generations of Californians have a shot at success. 
In the meantime, we call on policymakers to join us in adopting this initial package to give us a strong start along this critical path.