On Oct. 20, the California Assembly held our first hearing of the Select Committee on Social Housing. It was great to have so many people join us for the start of this critical — and long overdue — conversation to bring social housing policy that works to CA.
Here’s a quick recap of the hearing:
We began by trying to define what we mean when we use the term “social housing” in the U.S. and how the term “public housing” has been historically defined since the New Deal. Dr. Rob Wiener dove into those definitions and context — as outlined in California’s YIMBY Twitter thread.
We also had Dr. Edward Goetz join us to provide a brief history of public housing in the U.S. In order to formulate good social housing policy going forward, it’s important to reflect on the current state of public housing and how we got here.
We were then joined by one of my constituents, who goes by the street name of Slumjack. He has experienced homelessness and embodies why we do this work. Slumjack’s is an important perspective we must include because those who have experienced homelessness deserve a seat at the table.
For the second half of our hearing, we heard from three experts who shared the social housing models in other countries around the world. First, was Eduard Cabré Romans @cabreeduard from Barcelona, who shared how his city is increasing their public housing stock in a country with high homeownership.
Dr. Wolfgang Amann shared with us the Vienna model of affordable housing, which includes “limited profit housing models” — a type of housing that makes up an eye-popping 25% of the housing in Austria, compared to the just 4% of housing stock in CA that are nonmarket tenures.
Our final speaker was Talía Gonzalez Cacho who shared the history, challenges and evolution of social housing in Mexico. Mexico constitutionally requires that large employers provide workers with housing but also has a workforce where 60% work informally without access to financing.
And last but not least, we heard from members of the public. Many of the stakeholders who we need at the table during these important housing discussions — from social housing advocates, to workers in the building and construction trades, to mom-and-pop landlords and YIMBY activists.
Thank you to all those who joined us for this first of many hearings of the Select Committee on Social Housing. Special thanks to the panelists, and to my Bay Area colleagues who joined, committee members Assemblymembers Mia Bonta and Alex Lee.
Excited to continue this conversation!
And if you happened to miss the hearing, but want to watch the recording, you can find it at this link.
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