State Democrats Propose $1.3 Billion Affordable Housing Plan

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The site of Harper Crossing, an affordable housing building for seniors in Berkeley. A proposal in the Legislature would help fund housing developments across the state.  (Amy Mostafa/KQED)

A group of Democratic state lawmakers wants to tackle the California housing crisis by using money from this year's state budget surplus.

Bay Area Assembly Democrats David Chiu of San Francisco and Tony Thurmond of Richmond unveiled the $1.3 billion plan at a news conference in Sacramento on Monday.

"I don't think there's anyone here in 2016 who thinks a roof over your head should be a luxury. That is not the California dream," said Chiu, citing the state's housing costs and failure to curb homelessness.

The sweeping package, co-sponsored by 12 Democratic legislators from around the state, would shore up existing programs to build and rehabilitate housing for low-income and homeless Californians. The legislation calls for increased investment in both urban and rural areas.

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Local housing programs have been struggling since the state dissolved local redevelopment agencies to balance the fiscal 2012 budget.

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed several recent housing bills. The Chiu-Thurmond proposal honors his request to make housing legislation part of the budget negotiation process, though his office declined comment on the new legislation.

The plan's supporters, who include Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, have requested a hearing next month.