California Considers Slashing the Only State Funding for Affordable Homeownership as Housing Prices Skyrocket

Kristen and sons portrait

It all starts with home. Families that own their home have better health outcomes, they live longer, their children do better in school, and they are more involved in their community. The list of benefits goes on and on, and yet for far too many Bay Area families, homeownership has become increasingly out of reach.

One in 5 families in California now spend more than half their paycheck on housing. For low-income households, that means having to make impossible choices between paying for groceries, medicine or a utility bill and paying for the roof over their heads. In the Bay Area, the situation is even more acute, which means teachers, nurses and other essential workers are priced out of homeownership.  

Addressing the growing housing crisis takes partnership, creativity and a lot of persistence. It takes all of us coming together for a shared purpose. The state plays a critical role in this, shaping the policies, programs and funding that directly impact local Marin families. One state program stands out for its unique ability to advance affordable homeownership. CalHome is the only state program providing funding for the production of affordable homes for ownership rather than renting.

lschneider Family Habitat Terrace 2018

Compared to renting, homeownership has been proven to create lasting economic stability, further support families and strengthen communities. U.S. homeowners have an average net wealth that is 400% higher than that of renters with similar demographics and earnings. Children of homeowners are more likely to graduate from high school and college than children of renter households in the same income level. Homeownership increases civic engagement, raises the local tax base, and reduces reliance on long-term public assistance.

In January, we learned that Governor Newsom’s budget proposal for FY25 includes a claw-back of $152.5M in funding previously allocated for the CalHome program. CalHome is widely used by nonprofit developers, including Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco, to support new home construction and home preservation.

The budget revision not only slashes 100% of budgeted funding for CalHome but disproportionately targets owner-occupied, equity-building lower-income housing compared to state rental housing and homelessness programs. If CalHome is excluded from the budget, thousands of affordable homes across the state will go unbuilt at a time when we need affordable homeownership more than ever.

Geneva Layson Family Front door portrait

What does this mean for Marin County? Just this year, CalHome awarded Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco a $10 million grant to build and preserve affordable homeownership for local families. It was the largest grant in our nonprofit’s history. In Marin County, $7.5 million of the grant will go towards building the state’s largest 100% affordable homeownership development with 80 homes in Novato. This project would not be possible without CalHome.

The network of 33 Habitat for Humanity affiliates representing 42 California counties, have been hard at work advocating for CalHome – sending letters, posting to social media, and meeting directly with our legislators in Sacramento. 

Despite our efforts, the Governor’s May Budget Revision did not include a restoration of CalHome, a source that many California Habitat for Humanity affiliates, Greater San Francisco included, count on as critical to building and repairing homes in our local communities.

Daricka and sons portrait 2 (1)

Now is the time to make our collective voices heard and ensure CalHome gets restored in the state budget. Remind Governor Newsom and your State Representatives that you believe more Californians should have access to homeownership and all the social, health, financial, educational, and generational benefits it offers. It only takes one minute, but it could make the difference in securing the financial support we need to continue making homeownership a reality for more families in our region.

Maureen Sedonaen

CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco building homes for hard-working families in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Read Maureen’s Op-Ed in the Marin Voice.

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