California's statewide housing shortage has been decades in the making—long before the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the state has made significant investments to bolster much-needed affordable housing production through tax credits, housing-related infrastructure grants, and financing loans. The pandemic further exacerbated the statewide housing shortage and impacted housing affordability.
The May Revision promotes and maintains stable housing through additional and expanded rental assistance, foreclosure prevention, and down payment assistance investments. Moreover, to continue the momentum on housing production, the Administration also proposes innovative ways to further plan, produce, preserve, and enhance the state's supply of long-term affordable housing.
The following May Revision concepts build upon the $750 million in investments proposed in the Governor's Budget for a total 2021-22 housing package of $9.3 billion.
HOMEOWNER AND RENTER RELIEF
The pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for renters and homeowners. To provide much-needed economic relief and recovery, the state has sought to maximize federal funds and enact laws benefitting renters, small landlords, and homeowners.
In August 2020, the Governor signed Chapter 37, Statutes of 2020 (AB 3088), providing eviction protections for renters through March 1, 2021. To protect homeowners struggling to pay mortgages, the Administration also worked with financial institutions to provide a 90-day grace period of mortgage payments with no negative credit impacts, relief from fees and charges, and a 60-day moratorium on foreclosure sales. The Governor later extended these protections by supplementing up to 18 months of mortgage forbearance provided by the federal government for homeowners experiencing financial hardships in paying federally-backed mortgages.
Building on those measures, the May Revision proposes the following additional augmentations to provide additional relief.
CALIFORNIA'S COVID-19 RENT RELIEF PROGRAM
In January 2021, the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, Chapter 2, Statutes of 2021 (SB 91), was signed, creating the California COVID-19 Rent Relief Program. This program provides up to $2.6 billion in federal rental assistance to those facing financial hardships as a result of the pandemic and extends the eviction protections through June 30, 2021. Subsequent to the state's program deployment in March 2021, the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) provided for an additional $2.6 billion to California for both state and local entitlement jurisdictions for a total of $5.2 billion in federal rental relief aid.
The May Revision includes statutory amendments to maximize the use of available federal funds for rent, utilities, and housing-related expenses to help as many Californians as possible stay housed while bolstering the economic resiliency of those hardest hit by the pandemic.
Additionally, the state continues to utilize $331 million in National Mortgage Settlement funds for mortgage assistance. The state is also preparing to utilize $1 billion from ARPA Homeowner Assistance Funds to the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to provide additional mortgage assistance, principal reductions, and qualified housing-related charges to provide housing stability.
EXPANDED HOMEOWNER AND RENTER LEGAL ASSISTANCE
To further protect homeowners and renters experiencing unprecedented economic hardships, the 2019 and 2020 Budget Acts appropriated $51 million in grants to community-based organizations that offer eviction and foreclosure counseling, consultation, mediation, training, education, and representation.
As homeowners and renters continue to face economic challenges caused by the pandemic, the May Revision includes $20 million in federal ARPA Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds for the next three years ($60 million total) to the Judicial Council to continue providing legal assistance grants to over 100 legal service and self-help organizations.
INCREASING HOUSING PRODUCTION
The May Revision proposes $1.75 billion one-time federal ARPA funds to help support HCD affordable housing projects. This will help more than 6,300 units of shovel-ready affordable housing move forward quickly rather than accumulating costs while waiting for a potential future tax credit. This effort will be combined with other homelessness proposals mentioned later in this Chapter.
ACCESSORY DWELLING UNIT FINANCING
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have become an increasingly popular and cost-efficient tool to create needed housing. Chapter 159, Statutes of 2019 (AB 101) provided $19 million General Fund for CalHFA to finance ADUs for low- and moderate-income households, which is anticipated to begin in July 2021. To foster greater economic recovery and affordable housing, the May Revision includes an additional $81 million one-time federal ARPA funds to expand CalHFA's ADU program to inject a total of $100 million in available financing for ADUs. Because ADUs have quicker local approvals, this proposal will further expedite low-cost production and more quickly increase the housing units statewide.
SCALING UP DEVELOPMENT ON STATE EXCESS SITES
The state is committed to expanding and streamlining the development of housing on available excess state sites. To further encourage participation in the state excess lands program, the Governor's Budget proposed trailer bill language to permit phased and commercial development needed to develop more affordable housing.
To keep the momentum going on this effort, the May Revision proposes $45 million in one-time federal ARPA funds that would scale up excess land development by providing funding for vital infrastructure for viable housing projects.