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RURAL HOUSING ADVOCACY

CRLAF’s Rural Housing Project engages in legislative and administrative advocacy, pursues policies in the state legislature, and conducts training on housing issues throughout California to ensure low-income rural families’ and farmworkers' access to safe and affordable housing. The Project advocates for new and expanded funding and community investment programs that support rural regions, including opportunities for farmworker housing, improves and protects state housing law enforcement efforts, particularly Housing Element Law, takes a leadership role in opposing legislative or regulatory efforts to weaken housing rights that impact the rural poor and their families, undertakes related legal and public policy research, education and media efforts, and initiates training of advocates, attorneys and agency staff about housing laws.

 

During the pandemic, the Project advocated to successfully keep two migrant labor camps in the San Joaquin Valley open beyond their scheduled closure date, to protect families, approximately 300 residents, from COVID-19 and homelessness. It also co-sponsored and supported several tenant protection laws and rental assistance programs to support low-income individuals and families throughout the three-year health and economic crises.

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CRLAF’s Rural Housing Project works with partners to successfully expand funding in the state budget for farmworker housing, such as the Joe Serna Farmworker Housing Grant Program. Finally, the Project co-sponsors a biennial Housing Summit with Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP). This two-day event in the state Capitol brings together legal services advocates and community groups to discuss issues impacting our client communities and develop potential solutions, including shared priorities for each upcoming legislative session. 

 

CRLAF’s Recently Sponsored and Passed Housing Legislation

 

2022:

  • AB 1654 (Rivas): CRLAF co-sponsored with California Coalition for Rural Housing, requires that whenever the state augments the main tax credit, at least 5% or $25M (whichever is less) is automatically set aside for farmworker housing.  

  • AB 2339 (Bloom): CRLAF co-sponsored with WCLP and the Public Interest Law Project, closes loopholes in existing Housing Element law requiring cities and counties adopt plans for how they will meet the housing needs of low-income households, including the unsheltered. 

  • AB 2597 (Bloom, Garcia): CRLAF co-sponsored with Western Center on Law and Poverty, CLP, Inner City Law Center, Leadership Council, and Regional Asthma Management and Prevention. AB 2597 proposed to update the state's habitability standards to ensure that all rental units have a means of maintaining a safe indoor air temperature regardless of the temperature outside. When the bill passed the Assembly Appropriations committee, it was stripped of key provisions, and the author decided not to move the bill further. CRLAF and the other sponsors worked to have a similar policy included in the budget climate package which provides $5M to the state Department of Housing and Community Development to develop recommendations to the legislature for establishing and implementing a maximum indoor air temperature in rental housing.

 

2021

 

  • SB 510 (Pan): gives local governments the discretion to consider the opinions of mobile homeowners in weighing a conversion, and to protect them from forced conversions. 

  • AB 838 (Friedman): CRLAF co-sponsored with Western Center on Law and Poverty, which prohibits local code enforcement programs from refusing to inspect substandard housing. 

  • AB 1304 (Santiago): strengthens requirements for cities and counties to analyze and proactively address fair housing issues in local housing plans as part of their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH). AFFH means that government entities must take active steps to dismantle segregation, foster inclusive communities, create equal housing opportunities, address disinvestment in low-income neighborhoods, and protect residents from displacement. AB 1304 builds on prior legislation, AB 686 (Santiago) from 2018, which required public agencies, including state and local government entities, to affirmatively further fair housing in all housing and community development-related activities. 

  • AB 1398 (Bloom): helps to ensure timely adoption of locally adopted housing plans, known as the Housing Element, and increases the consequences for local governments who ignore the law and fail to adopt a state-approved Housing Element on time. Through many years of legislative advocacy, CRLAF helped create the detailed requirements in this area of the law, which provides tools at the local level to break down barriers to housing for low-income families, including farmworkers and other rural households.

 

2020

 

  • AB 3088 (Chiu): CRLAF had played a lead role in negotiating this bill, which first enacted limits for evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent related to COVID-19 related hardships in August, 2020. 

  • SB 91 (Chiu): extended AB 3088 protections from February 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022, and included provisions for how the state would expend several billion dollars in rental assistance from the federal government. CRLAF helped convene a coalition of tenant and consumer advocates and attorneys, which collaboration led to the creation of a platform of recommendations to provide protections from eviction and protect tenants from consumer debt. 

  • AB 832 (Chiu): CRLAF’s advocacy with legislative leaders and the administration resulted in the incorporation of several elements of our platform into this eviction protection extension including greater program accessibility.

  • CRLAF was also a key supporter in advocating for changes and improvements to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). 

  • AB 2782 (Stone): CRLAF co-sponsored with the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League (GSMOL), our second attempt to enact protections for homeowners living in manufactured housing communities that face closure. The bill gives local governments stronger authority to turn down a proposed closure, and ensures that homeowners who are displaced receive the fair market value of their home as compensation.

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