Senator Limón speaks to supporters of the Laborforce Housing Fund as Mayor Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento looks on. | Credit: Courtesy

A new bill sponsored by State Senator Monique Limón would pull a percentage from short-term rentals to give local governments funding for low- and middle-income housing across California and provide union jobs.

Called the Laborforce Housing Fund, Limón’s bill notes that the “statewide housing crisis is exacerbated by the commercial use of residential homes and apartments for transient occupancies.” Her bill would require vacation rentals to pay into the fund as they have reduced the supply of permanent housing and raised rents for permanent occupants. 

Calling the bill an innovative solution, Limón said at a March 27 press conference held with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California: “Over the last few years, we have made strides to add new housing units to the market, but we have not been able to create enough middle- and low-income housing. It has been made clear that in order for all of our local governments to meet housing targets we need a consistent, budget-proof funding source that will ensure our cities can meet our housing goals.”

If it passes, Limón’s bill would create the Laborforce Housing Fund in the State Treasury to hold appropriations that would create housing for certain protected “residents and households unable to afford market rent.” The builders would be “public entities, local housing authorities, and mission-driven nonprofit housing providers,” the bill reads, and the publicly owned housing would be built sustainably with union labor.

The money would go toward new construction and upgrades to existing public housing that need rehabilitation, which defines about 47.4 percent of such properties in the City of Santa Barbara, according to its draft Housing Element.

Though California doubled its housing production over the last three years, local governments are calling for more. The state funded 16 percent of its housing production goals in 2021, according to the California Housing Partnership, the majority to provide homes to extremely and very low-income individuals.

Santa Barbara County is struggling to find funds for new housing and relies mostly on private and nonprofit organizations for its lower-income housing. The new bill would direct the new funding to those entities.

“SB 584 is a real solution, providing a [direct] funding mechanism that will bring dollars into local communities to build affordable housing that isn’t held back by profit margins,” said Andrew Meredith, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. “The construction of these projects will drive growth in local apprenticeship programs around the state, maximizing the value of every dollar generated under this bill.”

The exact amount of the assessment is just a blank line in the bill currently. The Trades Council is working with Limón’s office to determine an assessment amount that would both provide a good funding stream and avoid penalizing short-term rental owners. “We are asking that short-term rental owners invest in communities where they do business,” Limón said. “We must take an all-hands-on-deck approach to address our housing crisis.”


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