CA Gov. Gavin Newsom announces $610M to aid increasing housing, transportation

Ruby Sapia/Staff

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $610 million in funding aimed at increasing housing and improving transportation near job centers in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

This comes after a $279 million grant from the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program, which is funded by Proposition 1C. In order to support mixed-income and affordable housing, the grant money looks to revamp infrastructure.

“Sky-high housing costs are putting the squeeze on family budgets while long commutes contribute to dirtier air,” Newsom said in a press release. “By bringing housing closer to jobs, we can fight climate change and create healthier, sustainable communities across California.”

The funds will be awarded by the California Strategic Growth Council, or SGC, a cabinet-level committee that aims to promote sustainability, economic prosperity and quality of life for all Californians, according to their website. The funds will be distributed through two programs: the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program and the Transformative Climate Communities Program.

To uplift disadvantaged communities in California, the programs invest in housing, land use, transportation, clean energy, urban greening and economic development, according to the press release.

“We are thrilled to release more than $600 million to help California communities tackle long-standing inequities by build more affordable housing and infrastructure and to support programs that provide residents economic opportunities,” said Louise Bedsworth, SGC executive director, in the press release.

The funding looks to both aid the state’s most disadvantaged communities and fight climate change, according to Bedsworth.

Measure O, which was adopted by the Berkeley City Council in 2018, issued $135 million in city bonds to create and preserve affordable housing for Berkeley’s low-income residents, according to the 2018 election voter guide.

Though Measure O Oversight Committee vice chair Igor Tregub said the $135 million was very helpful, he believes it is “not enough to meet the needs of the city of Berkeley.”

“The governor has been consistent in driving home the message that housing is a priority in the state,” Tregub added.

To accelerate housing development, Newsom signed 18 bills into law last October, according to the press release. In June, Newsom’s state budget included a $1.75 billion housing investment, $20 million allocated toward legal services for tenants facing eviction and $1 billion to help combat homelessness.

Tregub was not surprised about the announcement of the funding, as he thinks the state is headed in the right direction to address its housing challenges.

“I wasn’t surprised, but $610 million sounds like a lot,” Tregub said. “It’s not a silver bullet, but we’re certainly better off than yesterday before Newsom announced the funding.”

Contact Marc Escobar at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @mescobar_dc.