I believe in providing safe and affordable housing so that people from all backgrounds can enjoy what our wonderful communities have to offer.
As of 2019, California is short 1.4 million affordable rental units. Of the more than 2 million very low-income renter households in California, roughly two-thirds are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half their income on rent. As a result of skyrocketing housing costs, our unsheltered population has increased 22% over the last decade. 15% of California’s unsheltered population are families with children.
In order to support unsheltered persons, create equitable housing opportunities, and attract more people to our growing local economies, we must work to make housing safer and more affordable for residents of the Central Coast.
The Central Coast has been a leader in housing policy and I am committed to expanding the great work that has already been done in our district. For example, Santa Barbara’s Safe Parking Program, the first of its kind, allows individuals experiencing vehicular homelessness to safely park overnight in designated areas with access to basic amenities like restrooms and showers. Since its introduction, this Central Coast program has inspired communities across the country to invest in their own safe parking programs. Its success prompted me to introduce H.R. 2965, the Naomi Schwartz Safe Parking Program Act, which requires the Department of Housing and Urban Development to establish a grant program that will fund similar programs across the country that are modeled after our own.
Securing affordable housing for our brave men and women in uniform continues to be a challenge. That’s why I have introduced the Home for the Brave Act, which exempts disability benefits from counting towards the total income of veterans applying for housing assistance. Compensation for injuries sustained in the line of duty should not keep our veterans from receiving the help they need to find a home after returning from service.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a devastating housing shortage across the state. As a result, I supported federal housing aid to address this crisis. In 2020, the CARES Act brought $550 million into our state for the Project RoomKey Program, which converts hotels, motels, and empty apartment buildings into long-term low-cost housing. More recently, the American Rescue Plan provided over $10 million to the Central Coast through HOME Investment Partnership Programs specifically to support unsheltered persons.
In addition to my support for these critical pieces of legislation, I am also proud to serve on the Congressional Homelessness Caucus. Providing affordable housing for working individuals and families is key to a strong economy and safe community. With this work, we can make sure that no one has to worry about whether they will be able to afford rent or where they will sleep at night.
For more information concerning my work and views related to housing, please contact our office.