RURAL HOUSING ADVOCACY
The Housing Project focuses on pursuing policies in the state legislature that ensure low-income rural families and farm workers have access to safe and affordable housing.
We advocate for stronger affordable housing polices throughout California, with a focus on legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of the rural poor.
The Rural Housing Project engages in legislative and administrative advocacy around low-income rural and farmworker housing issues, publishes a quarterly newsletter on state housing issues ("Capitol Gains"), conducts training on housing issues throughout the state and maintains a web page on rural and farmworker issues at www.housingadvocates.org.
The Housing Project's Strategy
ensure that funding and community investment programs include rural communities and opportunities for farm worker housing;
improve and protect state housing law enforcement efforts, particularly Housing Element Law
take a leadership role in opposing legislative or regulatory efforts to weaken housing rights that impact the rural poor and their families
undertake related legal and public policy research, education and media efforts
initiate training of advocates, attorneys and agency staff about housing laws
CRLAF Sponsored Housing Legislation
AB 2026 (Stone) – Interference with Mobile Home Sales (Sponsored): This bill would protect manufactured home owners’ ability to sell their home in place in parks, without unscrupulous interference. Some parks have imposed impossibly high standards on new residents purchasing a mobile home, in order to purchase the mobile home itself at a drastically reduced price. This bill sought to rein in these abuses by clarifying what has been a vague area of the law. The bill would have required park owners to use reasonable standards when considering whether to approve potential purchasers as tenants. The bill also required reasonable standards when determining whether a repair or improvement to the home is required to transfer title. AB 2026 was sponsored by CRLAF, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Golden State Manufactured Housing Owners League (park residents). Unfortunately, the bill failed on the Assembly Floor.
SB 1260 (DeSaulnier) – Investment Without Displacement and Exclusion (Sponsored): Last year, we worked to ensure that any Redevelopment 2.0 proposal, whether Infrastructure Finance Districts or other tax increment bills, had strong affordable housing protections as are in the Community Redevelopment Law (CRL), and a 25% set-aside.
Instead of seeking to individually insert CRL protections into every such proposal in the legislature, this year we co-sponsored SB 1260, which would have imposed CRL-type housing requirements on any types of districts that would use tax increment financing. The bill would have imposed production, relocation, and replacement housing requirements, and would include a 25% set-aside of property tax increment revenue for affordable housing. Although 25% is an increase over the general CRL set-aside of 20%, the tax increment “pie” is much smaller, as property tax revenue slated for schools cannot be diverted to IFDs (as was allowed under the CRL), and special district property tax revenues can only be diverted with the approval of the special district. Unfortunately, this bill was held in Senate Appropriations.
CRLAF worked to ensure that the new Cap-and-Trade related Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC) program had housing provisions that reflected the valuable role that affordable housing can play in reducing GHGs. Further, CRLAF played an important role in the Cap & Trade discussions on behalf of rural communities. First, we worked with the Governor’s office to make sure that the rural communities were not excluded from the funds due to restrictive budget bill language. We were able to create language broad enough for rural communities to have a chance to compete for the program. As the Strategic Growth Council develops the AHSC program guidelines, CRLAF will work to make sure that rural projects can compete with urban projects on a level playing field.
AB 1229 (Atkins) – Inclusionary Zoning: Inclusionary zoning has been an important tool for reversing decades of exclusionary land use practices that have prevented low-income families and others from living in newly developing communities. Inclusionary zoning policies, when adopted on the local level, typically require housing developers to make 10-15% of their new units affordable to lower-income households. With the loss of redevelopment and the exhaustion of housing bond funds, inclusionary is one of the few tools left that produces affordable units. In 2009, a court held that these policies are a form of rent control and barred by the Costa-Hawkins Act, an anti-rent control law passed by landlords 15 years ago. AB 1229 clarifies that Costa-Hawkinsdoes not apply to inclusionary policies, helping to restore this valuable social equity tool. This bill was vetoed by the Governor.
AB 325 (Alejo) – Local Enforcement of State Housing Law: The Housing Element is the primary planning document wherein a community determines the manner in which it will meet its housing needs. Historically, housing elements were given an extended statute of limitations, allowing local advocates the ability to review and challenge an element’s compliance with state law. Unlike other local land use approvals, housing elements are living documents that often do not reveal deficiencies until an attempt is made to build an affordable housing development or homeless shelter. As a result, local oversight is a critical component to enforcing this state law.
AB 325 overturned the decision in Urban Habitat v. Pleasanton and return a fair and equitable statute of limitations to those who seek to challenge a local housing element’s compliance with State law. The Pleasanton case reduced the statute of limitations to challenge housing elements from what was previously the whole planning period (5 years) to a mere 90 days. This bill expands that to 2 years for housing elements found out of compliance by the State and 9 months for State approved elements. This bill was signed by the Governor.
SB 510 (Jackson) – Mobile Home Park Conversions (Sponsored): Under state law, mobile home park owners can request that their park be subdivided into for-sale spaces instead of rental spaces. This gives the park owner the ability to sell the spaces in a process referred to as ‘condo-conversion’. Mobile home park owners have spent millions in litigation seeking to establish that local governments have no discretion to turn down their requests to subdivide the rental spaces in a mobile home park and convert them to for-sale. Primarily, they want to invalidate the role of resident survey requirement in mobile home park conversions. Without the voice given by the resident survey, the approval process imperils the investment of low and moderate income-homeowners, who risk seeing their investment wiped out by an inflated asking price for the land beneath their homes. SB 510 gives local governments the discretion to consider the opinions of homeowners in weighing such a conversion, and to protect them from forced conversions. This bill was signed by the Governor.