Subscribe Donate

Tag: housing is a human right

Home | Newsroom |

Assembly committee okays amending state constitution to add housing as a right

The Golden State’s expensive housing prices are stirring state lawmakers to action.

A bill establishing a fundamental right to housing for all Californians passed its first vote 6-2 in the state Assembly Housing Committee on June 7.

Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) introduced the legislation, ACA 10, on March 6, 2023, which would amend the California Constitution. “Access to adequate housing is one of the first steps to guarantee a person’s physical, emotional, and economic well-being,” said Haney in a statement. “Despite a patchwork of resources given to cities and counties across the state to provide affordable and accessible housing, California is still struggling to address its worsening housing crisis.

“Putting this commitment to housing in our constitution brings it up in comparison to other rights that we’ve said are non-negotiable for us and holds governments and elected officials accountable to do their job. This constitutional amendment simply says housing is the highest priority and value in our state.”

Read More

Advocates push for state amendment to make housing a ‘human right’

Should the state guarantee a right to housing for all Californians?

A coalition of anti-poverty advocates led by Matt Haney, a Democratic state assemblymember from San Francisco, is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that seeks to do just that.

The amendment does not define a right to housing, and backers have offered few specifics about what it would mean in practice. But they say it could make it easier for state officials to sue local governments that resist adding significantly more affordable homes. To pass, it needs a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature and then approval by voters.

At a news conference in Sacramento this week, Haney, alongside leaders from advocacy groups including the ACLU of California and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, touted the amendment as a long-awaited solution to the state’s affordable housing shortage.

“This is a crisis, and the status quo approach that doesn’t recognize (housing) as a fundamental human right is not going to get us there,” said Haney, a newly elected lawmaker who campaigned on bolstering affordable housing.

Past efforts to codify a right to housing in the state constitution have failed in recent years. And it remains unclear if the latest amendment can muster enough support this time around. But if successful, advocates say it would be the first of its kind anywhere in the country.

For decades, the state and Bay Area haven’t come close to building enough affordably priced homes for everyone who needs them. That’s in part due to a lack of funding for low-income housing. But many cities — from metropolitan San Francisco to suburban Pleasanton — have also long resisted planning for growth.

Experts agree that underproduction is at the root of California’s astronomical housing costs, which are putting an increasing strain on many residents and exacerbating the state’s homelessness crisis.

More than half of all California renters spend over 30% of their earnings on housing, classifying them as “rent-burdened” by federal standards. And many pay much more than that. The state’s homeless population, meanwhile, has grown to over 170,000 people amid the economic fallout of the pandemic, spiking by at least 20% in Contra Costa, Alameda and San Mateo counties.

 

READ MORE