The Senate voted against bill 50 that seeks to make housing more accessible; will vote again

A few blocks from the neat streets of the neighborhood Studio city from The Angels, California, a young couple sleeps supported against a mountain of bags full of your belongings. The bright light of a pharmacy Rite Aid Shines next to both of you, dozing in the shadows. Customers enter and leave the store, some looking at the dark shapes, others looking the other way. Meanwhile the California Senate rejection last Thursday the measure that would allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods reserved for single family homes.

The sleeping couple is among the 151,000 people living in the streets of California, and as the number increases every year, many wonder how the housing crisis of the state it got so bad. Part of the answer lies in what happened last week when legislators did not approve the legislation what promised to ease housing shortages creating more density near commercial areas and transit routes.

But opponents said the Bill 50 of the Senate did not do enough to protect residents low income of the gentrification and complained that it would remove the zoning power from local jurisdictions. Its author, the senator Scott Weiner, Democrat of San FranciscoHe said the bill would have been a first step in creating homes.

"The defeat of SB50 is another reminder that California has failed in housing," he said after Thursday's vote. “Apart from water, food, air and childbirth, nothing is more fundamental to human existence than having a place to live". The bill was not approved by three votes. However, the Senate voted to give it a “reconsideration“, Which means that legislators could vote again on Thursday of this week.

Weiner tweeted: “Yesterday was tough. We had a way to pass # SB50 but the votes were not as expected (…). "It is disappointing But a temporary setback. We will be back and fast. Because we must do it. Because we are in crisis and we have no choice but to take bold measures. ”

Since 1950, when voters approved Article 34 of the state constitution that requires community approval before low-income housing projects can be developed, millions of single family homes they have sprouted in California, creating many exclusive alleys, but few options for low-income tenants.

Such exclusive zoning contributed to the housing shortage which has fueled homelessness, according to experts and advocates. "Without a doubt, the main factor is the lack of affordable housing," he said. Tommy Newman from United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

La National Low Income Housing Coalition estimate that 1.3 million tenants in California they have equal or lower income to federal guidelines for povertybut there is only 286,844 affordable buildings throughout the state.

As a result, some three million households pay more than 30% of their income for rent, while 1.5 million pay more than 50% in rent, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

The crisis is so acute that only 53% of California voters say they can afford to live in the state, according to a 2019 Quinnipiac survey. During the last decade, rents have increased to twice the national average, and the average price of housing now exceeds $ 600,000, according to the California Association of Realtors.

"If we don't meet the infrastructure needs of a community, it will be broken," said Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, president and executive director of Los Angeles Family Housing, a social services and shelter provider. "Now we are broken," he said.

For people who they already live a day, the smallest increase in rent or mortgage It could be enough to unravel its stability. Priscilla Fregoso-Coughran, 28, and her husband, Ryan Coughranof 32 they worked full time when their son was diagnosed with autism in 2016. Coughran quit his job of minimum salary to stay at home with the child while Fregoso-Coughran kept her 9 to 5 as medical assistant.

Soon the bills accumulated and the monthly rent of your one-bedroom apartment increased by 200 dollars. They could not afford it, so they collected what they could and were bouncing between hotel rooms over the next four months.

She tried to access medical services for his son, but he did not succeed because I didn't have a permanent home address to include in the forms. Sometimes, when they slept in his car, Fregoso-Coughran remained awake worried that the police would find them and take his 18-month-old son. “I never saw myself needing services, never, in my life,” said Fregoso-Coughran.

Finally, he found Los Angeles Family Housing, one of the largest affordable housing providers in the city, who fed the family, helped them find shelter and offered them financial advice to get them back to normal. "There were many things we needed at that time," said Fregoso-Coughran. "We were depressed, with a very low mood … It cost us work." Three years later, the family remains in an affordable apartment building and the couple expects another child.

But not everyone is as lucky as this family. Only Los Angeles County has more than 500,000 buildings Below the creation of a balanced supply of homes that could help prevent people from falling into the street, according to a 2019 report by the California Housing Partnership. "We have not prioritized the creation of housing for people who earn less than the average salary," Newman said.

However, this is starting to change. Los Angeles, the city with the largest population of homeless people in the state with 59,000 inhabitants, according to the count of points over time last year, has been investing money in the problem for several years with mixed results.

In 2016, voters in the city of Los Angeles approved the HHH Proposition, a measure of bonds to buy 10,000 new permanent housing buildings for 10 years for homeless people. These homes would include services to support residents, such as mental and physical health services, education and job training, and drug and alcohol treatment.

The following year, voters in Los Angeles County passed a separate bill, Measure H, which created a sales tax of a quarter of a cent to pay for homeless services and short-term housing. It was supposed to house 45,000 people in the first five years and generate approximately $ 355 million annually for homeless services. Measure H money has helped place 16,256 people in permanent homes and 31,837 people in temporary shelters in the first two years since it was approved, according to the county's annual report.

This indicates a strong momentum for Klasky-Gamer of Los Angeles Family Housing. "We have spent less than three years since we voted (these measures) and since the money began to flow," he said. Keeping that mind, "I think 2020 will be an incredible year of hope," he added.

Earlier this month, the city's first permanent support housing complex funded by Prop. HHH opened its doors. The name of the intersection of southern Los Angeles, where it is located at 88th and Vermont, has 62 buildings that cost $ 473 per month for a studio and 703 per month for a three-bedroom apartment. The total cost of the project was $ 34 million, and each building cost more than $ 500,000. Work on 30 additional buildings will begin this year, city officials said.


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