Vote for Adam by March 5th – for BOTH the full, six-year Senate term and the remaining partial term. Learn More X

ADAM'S PLANS FOR THE SENATE

TACKLING THE TWIN CRISES OF HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND HOMELESSNESS

Read on

Californians are facing both a housing affordability crisis and a crisis of homelessness. These twin crises are interconnected, but not intractable. But we do need the political will to act.

“The housing affordability crisis is fundamentally a supply problem. We simply do not have enough housing that’s affordable, and because of that, we have seen a dramatic rise in people experiencing homelessness. Too many Californians are unable to afford their rent or mortgage or buy a home, and too many are struggling to just stay afloat.

“We need to build hundreds of thousands of units of affordable housing each year in California alone, and help those struggling to pay for housing every day. And we need to dramatically change how we approach homelessness to not only prevent people from ending up on the streets, but how we get people into housing and keep them housed — through a wraparound approach.

“We need to take drastic action. Action that increases tax incentives and direct federal investment in affordable housing, that builds more housing fast, that helps people afford their rent, and that gets people off the streets permanently.

“Increasing the availability of affordable housing is my top priority, and I will fight to make this plan a reality."
– Congressman Adam Schiff Candidate for U.S. Senate

ADDRESSING CALIFORNIA’S HOUSING AFFORDABILITY CRISIS

California does not have enough housing that’s affordable. As a result, millions of Californians cannot afford to live near where they work, and over 180,000 Californians are experiencing homelessness.

We need to build more housing that’s affordable – and fast. High costs of development for affordable housing, drawn out timelines, complex local zoning laws, and resistant attitudes towards high-density housing have all contributed to California’s housing crisis. One estimate found that California must build 3.5 million housing units by 2025 to end the state’s housing shortage.

Roughly 20% of California households spend more than half of their income on housing and housing costs are a significant financial strain. The problem exists in every part of the state –urban, suburban and rural, and across income levels.

We can create more affordable housing and keep people housed through a massive expansion of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), a federal renter’s tax credit, making Section 8 an entitlement program so all who are eligible for vouchers receive one, and making a much more substantial direct federal investment in affordable housing to increase housing supply. And more than anything else, we need the political will in Washington to make these changes a reality.

BUILDING MORE HOUSING

 

Expand The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program

We should make it easier for developers to build more affordable housing by dramatically expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. We can build an additional 230,000 affordable homes in California by loosening restrictions on LIHTC and expanding funding.

 

Create Federal Low-Interest Loans For Multifamily Housing Construction

We need more multifamily housing and we need to build it fast, from duplexes to triplexes and more. But building multifamily housing is expensive and affordable housing developers need private financing to make it happen. The federal government can make it easier to build multifamily housing by matching California’s low-interest loans to provide an additional low-interest funding stream for developers who build primarily affordable units–and require a higher share of subsidized affordable units. Additionally, we need to work to assure that the Housing and Urban Development/Federal Housing Administration (HUD/FHA) Section 221(d)4 program of mortgage insurance can work in high-cost areas.

 

Convert Unused Federal And State Government Buildings And Land Into Housing

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a large real estate inventory that includes buildings and land for lease and sale. We can build on the USPS model and convert underutilized federal and state government buildings — well beyond the U.S. Postal Service —to housing, and use unused and underused federal land in cities to build affordable housing and economic development centers.

 

Make Homebuilding Faster, Cheaper And Safer

We can make homebuilding faster, cheaper, and safer by providing funding to universities and public institutions to develop open-source designs and models that experiment with new, quicker construction methods. This research will help overcome housing development bottlenecks caused by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. The federal government can also further incentivize local governments to develop strong housing elements that include more affordable housing, that accelerate approvals and remove bureaucratic delays and barriers which impede the construction of new housing.

 

PROVIDING RELIEF TO RENTERS

 

Make Section 8 An Entitlement And Create Incentives For Landlords Who Accept Tenants In Housing Voucher Programs

About 75% of eligible low-income households receive no form of rental assistance according to a 2018 study. Providing vouchers to every eligible household, when paired with policies to spur production of new housing, could dramatically reduce homelessness and housing insecurity. Section 8 expansion could reduce the national poverty rate by nearly a quarter, moving 9 million people in the U.S. out of poverty.

 

Create A Federal Renter’s Tax Credit

Folks who are fortunate enough to buy a home get to deduct a part of their mortgage payments on their tax returns, but renters (who may pay just as much as a mortgage every month) get no tax benefit. A renter’s tax credit would supplement renters who are paying more than 30% of their income towards rent by providing a refundable credit. This refundable tax credit would be structured to provide the most immediate assistance to lower income households.

 

Create A Federal Fund For Tenant’s Rights Organizing And Legal Action

Tenants’ rights groups play a critical role in protecting renters against discrimination and unjust displacement. To help these groups expand their reach, we should create a federal fund for tenants’ rights groups to help enforce tenant protections.

 

Create A Federal Office Of Eviction Protection

We need to establish a federal office within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support and strengthen efforts to ensure that Californians remain safely housed. Adam’s legislation would create an Office of Eviction Protection, serving as a crucial resource for vulnerable Americans and working families to stave off the looming threat of eviction.

Building Positive Credit Scores Through Renting

In 2020 California passed a law that requires operators of subsidized multifamily units to provide the option for tenants to have their rent payments reported to a major credit bureau. This helps lower-income renters build their credit scores. We need to pass federal legislation to make sure that all Americans are able to build positive credit through their on-time rent payments.

MAKING HOMEOWNERSHIP EASIER AND MORE ACCESSIBLE

 

Create A Nationwide Down Payment Assistance Program For Low-Income Homebuyers

We must support wealth creation and home ownership for low-income Americans by offering up to $50,000 per home for a nationwide down payment assistance program for earners making below a certain threshold, building in guardrails to ensure such a program does not result in more foreclosures.

Place Restrictions On Corporate And Private Equity Landlords

Corporate landlords like private equity firms have been purchasing single-family homes across the United States, pricing out first-time homebuyers. For example, companies that operate fractional real estate investing platforms allow investors to purchase shares of single-family rental properties, bolstering the wealth of investors at the expense of families trying to purchase an affordable home. We can rein in corporate landlords by limiting the size and concentration of holdings of investment vehicle landlords and levying financial penalties on institutional purchases.

Fund Pilot Programs For Nonprofits That Lease Land And Sell Homes At A Low Price For Moderate Income Community Members

Community land trusts – nonprofits that acquire and steward land and homes to ensure long-term affordability – were popularized during the Civil Rights movement as a way to make homeownership more accessible. These trusts sell homes at a low price and grant the buyer a long-term lease on the land, creating affordable ownership opportunities for those who would otherwise be priced out of the housing market. We should create a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to fund pilot programs to support this homeownership option.

HELPING CALIFORNIANS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS

Over 181,399 Californians experience homelessness on any given night. Current estimates indicate that two-thirds of Californians experiencing homelessness are unsheltered and living on the street. Homelessness also disproportionately impacts communities of color due to discriminatory housing policy and systemic bias.

Living on the street subjects people to dangerous conditions, leaving them vulnerable to crime and negative health outcomes. In 2021, 5,000 people experiencing homelessness died on the streets in California and the mortality rate among people living on the street is increasing rapidly.

Homelessness is not just a California problem – though we feel it acutely. It is a national problem and making sure everyone has a safe place to live must be a federal priority. We need to make a sustained, significant federal investment in our social safety net and housing support systems to address homelessness.

We can reduce homelessness and increase the number of people living in safe, stable housing by increasing federal investment and funding, adapting a wraparound approach to homelessness that we have seen be successful with veterans experiencing homelessness, and taking a Housing First approach that recognizes people need to have stable housing before receiving any other interventions.

Additionally, we can increase positive outcomes for those experiencing homelessness by expanding our safety net programs, helping those experiencing homelessness connect with the necessary resources to get on their feet and get safely housed, increasing opportunities for workforce development, and implementing other innovative approaches already being tested in California.

CREATING A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH

 

Adopt A Wraparound Approach To Address Homelessness

The federal government has reduced homelessness among veterans nationwide by 55% since 2010. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) approach has been successful because of their wraparound services including:

  • Housing subsidies that make housing affordable
  • Adoption of the evidence-based practice of Housing First
  • Healthcare designed to meet the needs of each veteran
  • Ongoing research to improve operations/implementation efforts
  • Efforts to address social needs
  • Increased access to transportation
  • Employment opportunities and programs for veterans exiting the justice system
  • An integrated health system
  • Development of a peer support model for homeless programs
  • Integrating legal aid with medical care
  • Focusing on community integration

By expanding our social safety net and offering wraparound services to individuals experiencing homelessness, we can see a marked improvement in reducing homelessness.

 

Creating A National Housing Strategy

The current scale of our housing crisis makes it clear that this is a national problem that warrants a national response. We need a national, coordinated, proactive housing policy to replace our current haphazard ‘fits and starts’ approach. The federal government needs to treat this problem like the national crisis it is, with top level staff solely focused on finding ways to create new housing and address shortages. The Biden Administration and Congress need to work with state and local governments to execute a nationwide strategy to increase our national housing supply that meets the unique needs of our diverse communities and ensures that everybody has access to affordable, safe housing.

 

INCREASING FEDERAL FUNDING FOR HOMELESSNESS

 

Dramatically Increase Federal Funding For People Experiencing Homelessness

Over 653,100 individuals are experiencing homelessness each night in the U.S. – almost one third of them are in California. We need to dramatically increase federal funding for people experiencing homelessness by at least $100 billion. We need a long-term investment in support for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, through tenant-based rental assistance, supportive housing for seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals struggling with substance abuse, and an investment in our housing options including repairing and preserving our public housing. We also need to invest in what works, relying on data to support innovative new approaches to solving homelessness.

Create A Federal Innovation Fund For Homelessness

To end homelessness, we have to prevent it before it happens. Prevention strategies have been successful, but it’s hard to tell which individuals and families will become homeless without help. Research in Chicago, New York City, and Santa Clara County all found that prevention programs reduce shelter stays and result in overall cost savings. We can create a federal innovation fund for homelessness within Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to support innovation and testing of prevention strategies, and other strategies to address homelessness.

 

Address The Root Causes Of Homelessness And Housing Availability

We can substantially increase federal support to address homelessness by passing the Housing for All Act – comprehensive legislation that would:

  • Authorize federal funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and HOME Investment Partnerships Program to address the affordable housing shortage.
  • Invest in Housing Choice Vouchers, Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Continuums of Care to address the homelessness crisis.
  • Invest in new strategies to address the twin crises of housing affordability and homelessness through a federal investment in the Eviction Protection Program, mobile crisis intervention teams, and hotel conversions to permanent supportive housing.

EXPANDING SERVICES TO PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS

 

Create New Federal Offices Dedicated To Addressing The Housing Crisis

We need to bolster our federal resources to address the different sources that contribute to homelessness. First, we need to dramatically expand access to mental and behavioral health services through Adam’s legislation to establish a new office within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This approach would improve and expand access to substance use disorder and mental health services, and pair it with a robust grant program to provide funds to states, Tribes, cities, and territories to address their unique, individual needs. Additionally, we should create an “Interagency Council on Housing Affordability” modeled off the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness to analyze price gouging in the rental market, and provide recommendations for rent regulation and consumer protection.

 

Provide Direct Housing Guidance To People Experiencing Homelessness

We need to ensure that people have the resources and support they need to navigate the complex housing system and find long-term housing. We can do this by federally funding a Housing Navigator Program to assist people and families with navigating homelessness services, securing transitional and permanent housing placements, and completing applications for housing assistance programs.

Increase Funding And System Collaboration With Culturally Specific Organizations

Culturally specific organizations can address racial inequities in individuals experiencing homelessness in new and important ways. These organizations are created by and for local communities of color and have deep roots in their communities that allow them to better meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness based on the challenges in their local context. We can support these organizations and the critical role they play in creating a culturally responsive approach to addressing homelessness by creating a federal grant program through HUD to help these organizations provide services to individuals experiencing homelessness.

 

Expand Access To Occupational Licensing For Long-Term Career Opportunities

We can help individuals experiencing homelessness increase their long-term financial stability by reducing barriers to career opportunities. For example, when a family member is incarcerated, particularly the primary earner, it puts the whole family at risk of experiencing homelessness. When a formerly incarcerated individual is unable to find stable employment, it increases their chances of experiencing homelessness. This creates a revolving door between incarceration and homelessness. We can make stable employment more accessible and reduce homelessness among formerly incarcerated individuals by requiring the removal of provisions that prohibit individuals with criminal histories from obtaining occupational licenses.