California is too slow to offer state surplus properties to ease affordable housing crisis, audit finds

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has not effectively used surplus state-owned properties to help ease the affordable housing crisis, an audit finds that recommends agencies hire more staff and speed up the pace at which the plots are proposed for development.

Michael Tilden, the acting state auditor, reviewed California’s compliance with a 2019 executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom that prioritizes the use of state-owned land to support housing development affordable.

“The rapid creation of affordable housing is critical because more than 1.4 million low-income California renter households do not have access to affordable housing,” Tilden wrote Tuesday in a letter to the governor and other government leaders. ‘State.

While it is estimated that more than 30,000 affordable housing units could be provided to tenants under the executive order, the state Department of General Services must expedite the process of offering properties for development, the audit concluded.

Of the 92 properties the department plans to develop, it has only made 19 available, according to the report. Additionally, the department projects that it will take seven years to make the remaining packages available, “but adding just one staff member could cut that timeframe by more than two years,” Tilden wrote.

The Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) generally agreed with the report’s assessments and indicated they would implement the recommendations, the auditor’s office said.

Housing and Community Development said in a statement Tuesday that it is “committed to maximizing opportunities for all Californians to have a stable, affordable place to call home.”

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“In this work, the HCD and DGS team have created a development pipeline of over 3,000 homes in less than three years since the first property became available, and at least 2,000 additional homes are planned from its current open solicitations,” the statement read. noted.

The audit recommends that the California Legislature enact state laws that require agencies to comply with the executive order. The Department of General Services should be required by law to develop criteria for evaluating state land for affordable housing by September 2022, the audit said.

The report also recommended the state conduct comprehensive reviews next year and every four years thereafter to identify surplus properties that could be used for housing.

The state missed opportunities to consider additional properties for affordable housing due to a lack of communication between agencies, the audit found.

“The state’s need for affordable housing significantly exceeds its supply, negatively affecting Californians,” the auditors wrote.

Reports from the Department of Housing and Community Development found that high housing costs often lead to families being behind on rent and being left without food, utilities or health care. The lack of affordable housing also contributes to homelessness, which is reaching crisis levels in California.

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