More than $667 million in federal funding will support local affordable housing programs and projects across California, as announced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California. The city of Berkeley is receiving about $2.7 million of the funding.
The American Rescue Plan Act, which Padilla helped pass, is providing the money, according to a press release from Padilla’s office. This funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investments Partnerships Program, which provides grants to states and other localities for community needs, will increase the availability of affordable housing for low-income families.
“California has a shortage of affordable housing, and it’s going to take all levels of government working together to close the gap,” Padilla said in the press release. “As we work to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, I will continue to advocate for investments that help meet our state’s housing challenges and support the long-term economic prosperity of our underserved communities.”
It was reported in California’s 2019 Housing Emergency Update that state funding for affordable housing is still below the level it was in 2012, despite passing California’s 2017 Housing Package. According to the update, one in three households in California cannot meet basic needs due to high housing prices creating barriers for low-income individuals.
To address the affordable housing crisis, more than 1.4 million units are needed in California, according to the press release.
According to Berkeley Tenants Union secretary Matthew Lewis, the funding is insufficient for combatting the affordable housing issue in Berkeley.
“We need significantly more money for affordable housing,” Lewis said. “Federal government needs to put in significantly more money, the state government needs to put in significantly more money and local government needs to put in significantly more money.”
In an effort to tackle the shortage of housing, multiple U.S. senators and representatives, including Padilla, wrote a letter last month to President Joe Biden stressing the need for increased funding toward affordable housing infrastructure programs.
Some of their requests include providing $45 billion to the National Housing Trust Fund per year, of which $26 billion should be reserved for permanent housing for homeless individuals.
“Coronavirus and the compounding effects of explosive wildfires and extreme weather events have made the need for affordable housing more clear than ever,” the letter reads. “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, fifty-four million rural residents lived in areas that had either a severe need or moderately severe need for the production of more affordable rental housing.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Matthew Lewis saying only local governments should put significantly more money toward affordable housing. In fact, he said federal, state and local governments should put significantly more money toward affordable housing.