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Capitol Steps: CA Moves One Step Closer to Funding Affordable Housing




There’s nothing quite like being targeted by Tea Party members to show that you’re on to something good. This realization came to Jason López Urena during a State Assembly hearing yesterday on legislation that would spur affordable housing and support the creation of good jobs.

“It felt good to be attacked by the Tea Party – people are against it but they don’t know why,” said López of the legislation. “They said we are communists because we want to give back to the people.”

López, a 19-year-old college student and community activist who sits on the board of the nonprofit Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles, was part of a small delegation that traveled to Sacramento to advocate for SB1 (Steinberg), a bill that would create a Sustainable Communities Investment Authority in areas near transit hubs. Their efforts were rewarded when the Assembly’s Local Government Committee approved the bill with a 6-3 vote, allowing it to move to the Appropriations Committed next week. If the bill gets the green light there and on the Assembly floor, it will go to Governor Brown.

SB1 would fill the gap left by the dismantling of California’s Community Redevelopment Agencies in 2012. And for people like López, the legislation can’t come too soon.

“I grew up on the border between North Long Beach and Compton, and I rarely see any construction, people are losing their homes, there are empty lots. With SB1 hopefully we can bring in more jobs for people in the neighborhood to work on these projects and bring more money into the community.”

Also making the trek to Sacramento was Rey Fukuda, a community organizer with the East L.A. Community Corporation. For Fukuda, SB1 holds out tremendous promise to help solve one of the state’s greatest challenges – lack of affordable housing. Twenty-five percent of the resources of the new agencies will be spent on such housing for low- and moderate-income families.

“It made sense to support SB1 because there isn’t a strong funding mechanism for developers,” said Fukuda. “There is a huge need for affordable housing, and SB1 will help with funds, especially getting the first funds that help bring in other funds.”

For both Fukuda and López, going to the state Capitol and pushing lawmakers to support SB1 was well worth the time and effort. Said López: ”It gives me a sense of pride to know I could speak out and make a difference.”

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