It's a phrase we hear often in California: Affordable housing crisis.

Stories about high rent prices have been popping up in the headlines over the past few years as the state experiences a severe housing shortage. Last September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed "California's 2017 Housing Package" to combat the housing affordability issue. The bundle of bills went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and the California Department of Housing and Community Development [HCD] has been working on informing residents on what to expect from the new laws.

About 1.5 million low income households in California are paying more than half their income on housing costs. As a general rule of thumb, no more than 30 percent of income should be spent on housing.

HCD recently launched a webpage dedicated to the Housing Package where frequently asked questions and projections for each bill are addressed.

Here are the most important things to know about the package.

What is it?

According to HCD:

  • the bundle will provide funding for new, affordable homes by imposing a $75 fee on recording of real estate documents — with the exception of sales — for investment in development. The package will also place a $4 billion obligation bond on the November 2018 general election ballot for veterans and affordable housing programs.
  • One of the major reasons California has a housing supply shortage is because it's not completing new units at a fast enough pace. The bundle aims to fix that problem through tactics aimed at increasing development. The package creates a streamlined approval process — a project that fits within zoning must be approved without any discretionary processes or appeals — for developments in cities and counties that haven't met their legally mandated housing targets. The HCD is authorized to provide one-time planning funds and technical assistance to help cities and counties streamline housing production. Additionally, the package authorizes financial incentives for cities and counties that streamline development in certain areas in their jurisdiction.
  • The bills will work to hold cities and counties accountable for addressing housing needs in their communities by authorizing increased enforcement of the state housing-planning law and allowing HCD to refer violations to the state Attorney General. The new bills will also make sure land is available for new development and will impose a $10,000 per unit penalty on cities and counties that unjustifiably deny new low and middle-income housing.
  • The Housing Package will help build new affordable homes while preserving existing affordable homes. The bills will make the "farmworker housing tax credit" more attractive to developers and also allows cities and counties the option to require a certain amount of low-income housing on any new residential rental developments.

Who benefits?

The Housing Package will impact residents of California, especially in regions which haven't met their housing targets, such as Sacramento. The bills aim to help lower and middle-income families find affordable housing.

When will it begin?

The package went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. The majority of target dates for activities and milestones of each bill are projected for 2018-19, according to HCD. For a detailed look at the funding approval schedule visit the HCD's California Housing Package website.

Where will it help?

Although the package will be implemented on a state level, the bundle includes SB-35, which streamlines housing development in cities and counties not meeting their housing needs. SB-35 expedites approvals for certain housing projects, making some jurisdictions subject to streamlining with at least 10 percent affordability or at least 50 percent affordability depending on the area. The HCD released maps showing which cities and counties will fall under streamlined housing development. Sacramento is one of the regions featured on these maps.

Roseville, Rocklin, Woodland, Davis, Elk Grove and Folsom are subject to streamlining with at least 50 percent affordability.

Why?

The 15-bill package was created as a direct response to the low supply of new housing in state. The state averaged 80,000 new homes annually over the past 10 years, which is less than half of the estimated need, according to HCD.

For a full breakdown of each individual bill, visit California's 2017 Housing Package website. For the Housing Package FAQs, click here.