CA amendment would guarantee right to housing

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STATEWIDE – Assemblyman Matt Haney, D-San Francisco introduced, Wednesday, ACA 10 – a measure that would make housing a constitutional right in California. If lawmakers approve the proposal, the constitutional amendment would be put on the ballot for vote.

Haney is proposing to add the following amendment to California’s constitution:

“The state hereby recognizes the fundamental human right to adequate housing for everyone in California. It is the shared obligation of state and local jurisdictions to respect, protect, and fulfill this right, on a non-discriminatory and equitable basis, with a view to progressively achieve the full realization of the right, by all appropriate means, including the adoption and amendment of legislative measures, to the maximum of available resources.”

The lawmaker said it would not guarantee the government would provide housing for free. Rather is would:

  • Push local governments to do more to address the state’s lack of housing production and homelessness crisis. 
  • It could also bring more legal pressure to cities and counties who hold up that progress.  

Housing Lawsuit

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who authored the first version of the measure, is currently in the process of suing Huntington Beach for ignoring SB9. The law, which went into effect in 2022, allows up to four units to be built on single-family lots.

“California will need an estimated 2.5 million new homes by 2030 in order to meet housing demand. Yet, less than 125,000 new homes are built in California each year. Meanwhile, every night an estimated 170,000 Californians sleep in shelters or on the street. This is the colossal challenge that California is confronting. This is the fight that we’re taking on through actions like the ones announced today,” tweeted Bonta about the lawsuit.

American Civil Liberties Union California Action Organizer Carlos Marquez says the right to housing is a first step in what he believes is a multi-year campaign.

“It will also include a public right of action, which would allow someone like the Attorney General to ultimately put some guardrails on localities and enforce when their actions are deviating from or counter to the right to housing,” said Marquez.

RELATED: CalHFA accepting applications again for $40,000 Accessory Dwelling Unit Grant

Concerns about the Amendment

The California State Association of Counties has concerns about the proposal.

“Right now, no homelessness system exists and until one does, existing or future rights of our residents cannot be reasonably met,” said California State Association of Counties CEO Graham Knaus.

“[The constitution] which enshrines the right to a free public education, works because it is clear who is supposed to do what and how it is funded. The same cannot be said about housing and homelessness,” said Knaus. “The current approach is fragmented and missing clear lines of responsibility and accountability for all levels of government, provides inconsistent and insufficient funding and lacks the policy tools needed to guide efforts to improve our communities. That must change and counties invite all government and community partners to make that happen today, not tomorrow.”

The bill is scheduled for committee April 6, 2023 and requires a ⅔ vote to pass. The measure would then be placed on the ballot sometime in the future. If successfully voted into law, California would be the first state to create a constitutional right to housing.

To read the full measure visit https://legiscan.com/CA/text/ACA10/2023.

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