Political Watch: January 25, 2024

• U.S. Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) and Val Hoyle (D-Oregon) recently introduced comprehensive housing legislation to implement a range of housing and homelessness policy solutions to make affordable housing more accessible for working families across the United States and combat the increase in the number of children and families experiencing homelessness, according to a Jan. 17 statement from Carbajal’s office. The Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing for All (DASH) Act, which is led by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in the Senate, addresses the lack of affordable quality housing through policies like creating a new down payment tax credit for first-time homebuyers, expanding and improving housing tax credits, incentivizing the construction of more affordable housing, and supporting families with children who are at risk of becoming homeless by improving services and access to housing vouchers. “I hear from my Central Coast constituents every single day about their concerns with the rising costs of housing and the lack of affordable options for them to live and raise a family. With a problem as big as our nation’s housing crisis, we need a big solution—and that’s why I’m proud to co-lead the DASH Act in Congress,” Carbajal said in the statement. “From strengthening tax credits for low-income and middle-class households, to helping those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and much more—our legislation will help protect millions from losing their homes and help millions more put a roof over their head without breaking the bank.”

• U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) led 24 of his Senate colleagues in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to restore funding for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) for fiscal year 2024. In 2021, Congress appropriated $1.1 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children and Families to establish a temporary low-income water assistance program to help pay for water and wastewater bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. After helping more than 1.1 million households across the country maintain or restore water service and supporting 13,000 water and wastewater systems in low-income, tribal, rural, and urban communities, funding for the program expired at the end of fiscal year 2023, ending a lifeline for families in need across the country. More than 150 organizations—including water associations, environmental and public interest organizations, consumer advocates, and labor unions—wrote a similar letter urging Congress to provide fiscal year 2024 funding for LIHWAP. “Water and sewer bills are rising more than twice as quickly as inflation and increasing faster than energy bills, medical expenses, and household incomes,” the senators wrote in their letter. “The need for low-income household water assistance is just as important to public health and economic development as other basic needs such as home energy and nutrition, which have benefitted from federal support for decades.” 

• Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California has created 15,000 housing units as part of Homekey, an effort launched in 2019 to rapidly house individuals experiencing homelessness, according to a Jan. 18 statement from Newsom’s office. An estimated 163,260 individuals will be assisted with housing throughout the course of this program. “Homekey is a national model for rapidly creating affordable housing for Californians in need. In a few short years, this initiative has created more than 15,000 homes to help over 163,000 people. Homekey demonstrates what is possible when people think outside the box and refuse to accept the status quo,” Newsom said in the statement. Newsom also announced the latest awardees to receive grant funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)—including Oakland, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo, and the counties of Lassen and Marin. This funding will support six projects in total at a cost of nearly $95.6 million and will create 396 affordable homes. “Over a three-year period, Homekey has funded projects that will provide housing security to more than 163,000 Californians over the decades to come,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said in the statement. “This program has allowed jurisdictions to get creative with adaptive reuse of existing spaces and with providing a full array of services that help make homelessness rare, one time, and non-recurrent.”

Comments (0)
Add a Comment