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Members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® joined 2,500 California REALTORS® in Sacramento on May 1 for the California Association of REALTORS® annual Legislative Day. This year’s theme, “Homeownership Matters,” was evident in the speeches of REALTOR® officials and politicians, and in discussions the REALTORS® had with their respective legislators.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the special guest speaker at the morning briefing, said California is experiencing a “crisis moment, a crisis of confidence and a crisis of affordability.”

Newsom is deeply committed to address the housing issue and he wants to build 300,000 to 400,000 units on an annual basis. “Let us not forget that we are better off when we’re all better off,” said Newsom.

State Senator Scott Wiener, author of SB 50, the Housing Development Incentives bill, told REALTORS® at a luncheon that today’s zoning laws, crafted over 50 years ago, are outdated. Wiener said his legislation is about people and people’s lives.

In their meetings with state Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assemblymembers Marc Berman and Evan Low, Silicon Valley REALTORS® asked them to support the REALTOR® position on the following bills:

Vote YES on AB 1590 (Rubio) – First-Time Low- and Moderate-Income Homebuyer Tax Credit for Disadvantaged Communities. C.A.R. is sponsoring this bill which creates a first-time homebuyer tax credit for low- and moderate-income individuals and families purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. AB 1590 allocates $50 million for first-time homebuyers who have never owned a principal residence; who earn 120 percent or less of the area median income; and who are purchasing a home in a disadvantaged community. The tax credit would be equal to 3 percent of the purchase price of the home or $5,000, whichever is less.

Vote YES on SB 50 (Wiener) – Housing Development Incentives. C.A.R. is co-sponsoring this bill which seeks to authorize the implementation of transit-rich housing project bonuses for new urban developments, so families can afford to live within the communities in which they work. SB 50 encourages the development of mid-rise, multi-family unit, housing construction with close, walkable access to bus and rail transit. Residential developments may only obtain a “height” bonus if they meet local planning, zoning and design requirements. Local governments may approve higher-density housing, with reduced or eliminated parking requirements, provided the site is adjacent to transit or near jobs.

Vote No on SB 329 (Mitchell) – Mandatory Section 8. C.A.R. is opposing this bill which forces all residential rental property owners to participate in all government assistance and housing subsidy programs, such as the Section 8 housing program, by entering into a legally binding contract with a government agency. This bill forces all landlords into contracts whose provisions they may not be able to fulfill. C.A.R. says the bill does not fix the underlying problems with Section 8. Since housing authorities are understaffed, it can take as long as 60 days before all applications are submitted, inspections made, and contracts signed. During that time, the unit sits vacant at a substantial loss to the landlord.

All staunch proponents of housing, the legislators thanked the REALTORS® for their support and advocacy. They called on REALTORS® and others to stand up and speak louder about the need for housing “because the other side is so loud.”

Low said he has received sharp, mean-spirited backlash from those who oppose his pro-housing stance, some even demanding his recall, but he is not wavering. “Oftentimes we need to speak truth to the powerful. I feel very strongly about this. It’s important to make courageous decisions,” said Low.

The California Association of REALTORS® has announced its sponsorship of legislation intended to help first-time, low- and moderate-income home buyers in disadvantaged communities. AB 1590, authored by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), would create a targeted tax credit to help working families achieve their goal of homeownership. This legislation is especially timely, given the tight housing market.

“REALTORS® are sponsoring AB 1590 to help make the dream of homeownership a reality for low- and moderate-income Californians in disadvantaged communities,” said C.A.R. president Jared Martin in a statement. “Asm. Rubio’s bill specifically targets regions of the state that will benefit most from increasing the homeownership rate and is an important part of California’s overall fight to beat the housing affordability crisis.”

AB 1590 allocates $50 million to provide a tax credit to first-time homebuyers who meet specific criteria, which include that the homebuyer must have never owned a home previously; must earn 120 percent or less of area median income; and must purchase a home in a state-designated disadvantaged community. Current law identifies disadvantaged communities as areas with, among other things, concentrations of low-income individuals and families facing high housing costs.

Qualified first-time homebuyers who purchase a home between January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2023, will receive a tax credit of up to $5,000. The tax credit will help these first-time homebuyers cover unanticipated costs associated with homeownership. AB 1590 will first be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on April 29.

“AB 1590’s targeted tax credit helps Californians who need it most,” said Martin. “It creates a pathway to homeownership for people who are currently priced out of the market. It gives working families an opportunity to build wealth and can lift entire communities across the state.”

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, indicated, “During his State of the State speech earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, ‘If we want a California for all, we have to build housing for all.’ REALTORS® pledge to work with the governor and legislature to make sure all Californians can achieve the American dream of homeownership.”

Barbic said state legislators have advanced a number of bills to help solve the housing crisis. AB 1590 is one of several bills that the California Association of REALTORS® is sponsoring.

“We need to address the affordability problem in order to keep our middle class families here. AB 1590 will help our skilled and service workers, our teachers, the bedrock of our state, achieve their dream of homeownership and remain in the state,” said Barbic.

On May 1, over 2,000 California REALTORS® from across the state will travel to Sacramento to the meet with their state senators and assembly members to discuss this and other housing-related bills. Members of the local trade association are scheduled to meet with State Senators Jim Beall and Jerry Hill, and Assembly Members Evan Low and Marc Berman.

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