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The Lookout: New Cal Housing Bills Could Change the Look, Feel of Your Neighborhood

But lawmakers disagree about whether the bills would make housing more affordable or cause a host of other issues for the state’s single-family household neighborhoods that so many California homeowners appreciate.

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Row of Houses, Photo Courtesy of California Black Media

California, known for its sprawling residential neighborhoods of single-family homes spread out with driveways, front yards and garages, even in urban areas, may soon get an architectural makeover. That’s if two new bills approved by the Legislature and awaiting the governor’s signature are signed into law.

Both Senate Bill (SB) 9 and Senate Bill (SB) 10 are legislative responses to California’s twin crises — the lack of affordable housing and an overall shortage of homes.

But lawmakers disagree about whether the bills would make housing more affordable or cause a host of other issues for the state’s single-family household neighborhoods that so many California homeowners appreciate.

SB 9, authored by California’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D- San Diego), would allow homeowners in single-family households to have up to four housing units on their property.  SB 10 would allow cities and counties to bypass the usual environmental review process for projects or developments with a maximum of 10 units in urban areas.

“Growing up, my family moved between rentals — some better than others, but none of them ‘ours.’ Even though my mom and dad clocked into honest jobs their whole lives, the idea that the Atkins family could own a home of our own was hardly a goal. It was a far-off fantasy,” said Atkins late last month after the Senate approved SB 9.

“Today, too many hard-working California families are saying the same. With SB 9, we have the chance to change that,” Atkins continued. “This bill would give homeowners the tools to help ease our state’s housing shortage while creating a new source of income in their own backyard. It would allow our communities to welcome new families to the neighborhood and help more folks set foot on the path to buying their first home.”

But, in cities and neighborhoods across the state, there has been strong and vocal opposition to SB 9 and SB 10. Organizations like the League of California Cities claim SB 9 would actually be detrimental to affordable housing without the appropriate safeguards.

“The Planning and Zoning Law provides for the creation of accessory dwelling units by local ordinance, or, if a local agency has not adopted an ordinance, by ministerial approval, in accordance with specified standards and conditions,” the local governance advocacy association wrote in an opposition letter.

“This bill, among other things, would require a proposed housing development containing no more than two residential units within a single-family residential zone to be considered ministerially, without discretionary review or hearing, if the proposed housing development meets certain requirements,” the letter continued.

However, California Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY), a pro-affordable housing organization, argues that SB 9 is precisely what California residents need, especially following a pandemic.

“California has a severe shortage of middle-income housing, or small (fewer than 10 homes) multi-family housing developments near jobs and transit; the lack of such housing is driving the displacement and severe rent burden of Californians across the state. The problem: it is illegal to build middle-income housing in over 70% of the state,” the organization’s website states.

“SB 9 would legalize this middle-income housing by adopting best practices from housing experts at the University of California Los Angeles. It will also help California respond to historic job loss in the construction sector and a 45% decrease in home construction due to COVID-19,” the statement continues.

There has been significant opposition to SB 10 as well. Many of its critics feel it is a shallow solution to a complex problem.

“While the intent of providing more housing may be good, these bills and approach are highly problematic. It poses a one-size-fits-all solution and a blunt, statewide fix that would outstrip local authority and planning. It also does not recognize the diversity of communities and development statewide, let alone throughout Greater Los Angeles,” the Los Angeles Conservancy wrote in an opposition statement.

Both SB 9 and SB 10 have passed in the State Senate and are now awaiting final approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has until October 10 to sign or veto these bills.

Meanwhile, in the California State Assembly, Assembly Bill (AB) 1199 imposes an excise tax on landlords as a way to disincentivize them from buying foreclosed or under-market value homes in order to make a massive profit from these homes by using them as rental properties.

AB 1199 author Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) claims that this bill could help build generational wealth for low-income families.

“First-time homebuyers and working families lack opportunities to own homes and build generational wealth,” Gipson stated.

“AB 1199 corrects the excessive practice of corporations buying up foreclosed or under market value homes in order to profit from increasingly inflated rents. The state would impose an excise tax on large corporations that own and rent out 10 or more properties. The bill would create a fund from the taxes to support first time homebuyer education, down payment assistance programs and rental assistance for low-income families,” he continued.

The Assembly has not yet voted on AB 1199.

Advice

The Perfect Time to Lock in Your Mortgage Rate, Keep Rising Housing Costs Under Control Is Now

Despite a challenging homebuying environment with high demand and historically low inventory, purchasing a home is still attainable – and you don’t have to go through the process alone. Getting connected early with a home lending advisor will better prepare you for the homebuying process, help you understand how much home you can afford and get you prequalified so you can shop with confidence.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider.

By Christina Dello Buono

Surging mortgage rates combined with double-digit price gains are putting homeowners and potential buyers in a tough spot. First-time homebuyers, in particular, are being squeezed out of the market – due to the fact they don’t have equity or an additional boost from the sale of an existing property.

Despite those challenges, buying a home may not be as out of reach as you think.

We sat down with Denise Richardson, Community Home Lending Advisor at Chase, to discuss how to navigate the mortgage process, what resources are available, and how increasing mortgage rates can impact your family’s homebuying dreams.

Q: How do increasing mortgage rates impact prospective homebuyers?

Richardson: Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months – from 3% in 2021 to more than 6% in 2022 – making it increasingly difficult for many Americans to purchase a home, especially those on a limited income. That difference is significant by any measure, but it could result in hundreds of dollars added to your monthly payment and thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Despite a challenging homebuying environment with high demand and historically low inventory, purchasing a home is still attainable – and you don’t have to go through the process alone. Getting connected early with a home lending advisor will better prepare you for the homebuying process, help you understand how much home you can afford and get you prequalified so you can shop with confidence.

Q: Is it a good idea for homebuyers to lock in a mortgage rate as soon as possible?

Richardson: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to locking in a mortgage rate and there are many factors to consider. This is where your home lending advisor can provide more individualized counsel specific to your situation and your market.

Given the volatility of interest rates right now, we recommend locking in rates as soon as possible so you can be certain what your payments will look like on your loan. Many lenders require you to have a purchase contract in-hand before locking in your rates, but that isn’t always the case. Chase offers a Homebuyer Advantage Program, which allows you to get conditionally approved while you shop for a home.

Q: What happens if mortgage rates drop after a homebuyer locks in their rate?

Richardson: There isn’t an exact science to timing the market, and while interest rates have risen in recent months, it’s always possible that interest rates could fall. Some lenders offer a mortgage rate lock float down, which allows you to lock in an interest rate with the option to reduce if market rates fall during the lock period. This option provides you with a little more security in a volatile market and allows you to take advantage of falling interest rates.

You may be able to move to a lower rate even without the float down option, but it may require additional fees. Additionally, your lender may have particular requirements, such as being at a certain stage of the loan process, for the customer to be eligible to lower their rate.

Q: Can a homebuyer potentially let the rate lock expire by pushing back their closing date? 

Richardson: It’s certainly possible, but it isn’t likely to be beneficial for the customer. Oftentimes, lenders will only allow you to move forward with the rate you originally lock in – or the rate on the day you relock, whichever is higher.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the ability to move quickly in this environment is critical. It’s important to do your research on lender-backed resources available to you, such as Chase’s Closing Guarantee. This guarantee commits to closing customers in as little as three weeks, or they receive $5,000. The program offers buyers peace of mind knowing that they can close on their new home without delay or receive compensation that can be put toward additional costs.

There are plenty of other resources available to help boost your homebuying knowledge – especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. The Beginner to Buyer podcast is a great resource for prospective homebuyers to get answers to all their homebuying questions. Every episode offers conversations with real buyers and expert guests about each step of the process, from mortgage rates and application to closing.

Christina Dello Buono is a vice president in the Dept. of Communications, JPMorgan Chase/Northern California. 

Content sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Activism

Groundbreaking Ceremony for the St. John Missionary Baptist Church Family Life Center

The Family Life Center, a vision of Dr. Kevin B. Hall, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, is one of many he has for the City of Richmond. It is a multi-million-dollar project the church is undertaking without plans to borrow additional funding. Future visions of St. John and Pastor Hall include shelter for the homeless, affordable housing for seniors and temporary housing for the formerly incarcerated as part of a re-entry program.

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Deacon Edward Kimble, Cory Holloway, Deacon Art Johnson, Pastor Kevin B. Hall, Kaliyah Hall, Richmond City Councilman Demnlus Johnson and Deacon Steve Porter. Photo by: Joe L. Fisher
Deacon Edward Kimble, Cory Holloway, Deacon Art Johnson, Pastor Kevin B. Hall, Kaliyah Hall, Richmond City Councilman Demnlus Johnson and Deacon Steve Porter. Photo by: Joe L. Fisher

By Peggy Alexander

Dr. Kevin B. Hall, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and church leaders were joined by Richmond City Council members, congregants, and residents of Richmond’s Iron Triangle community to celebrate the official groundbreaking of the St. John Family Life Center at 29 Eight St. on July 16.

The Family Life Center, a vision of Pastor Hall’s, is one of many he has for the City of Richmond. It is a multi-million-dollar project the church is undertaking without plans to borrow additional funding. Future visions of St. John and Pastor Hall include shelter for the homeless, affordable housing for seniors and temporary housing for the formerly incarcerated as part of a re-entry program.

“The Family Life Center will be adjacent to the current sanctuary at the North Campus, which will consist of a gymnasium, game room (for the youth), and weight room.” It will be a positive, safe space for community members and congregants to have fun and fellowship. Also, an additional parking lot will be across the street from the St. John Family Life Center. The estimated completion time is 12 to 18 months.

The official groundbreaking ceremony was conducted by the following church leaders, youth and council members: Pastor Hall; deacons Arthur Johnson, Edward Kimball, and Steven Porter; trustee Sister Corry Holloway; Audio-Visual Youth Ministry member Kaliyah Hall, granddaughter of Pastor Hall; and Richmond City Councilmember Demnlus Johnson.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, earth was shoveled three times in unison by the participants. Many were in attendance at the morning ceremony.

St John is one church located in two communities (662 S. 52nd St. and 29 Eighth St.). Our goal is to share the love of God by evangelizing the sinner and equipping the Saints who are edifying and enjoying one another, to exalt the Savior. Please come worship with us.

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Bay Area

Board Bars Evictions Related to COVID-19

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

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The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.
The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.

Protections intended for those experiencing hardship because of pandemic

Courtesy of Marin County

Determined to prevent housing displacement for residents financially hampered by the ongoing pandemic, the Marin County Board of Supervisors took another action June 21 to prohibit residential renter evictions in unincorporated Marin effective July 1 through Sept. 30, 2022. The State of California’s eviction protections are scheduled to expire June 30.

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

The County is continuing to assist tenants who have applied for rental assistance and working with community partners to assure an equitable distribution of federal funds earmarked for eviction prevention. All renters have been protected by state or local laws, regardless of a person’s citizenship status, during the public health emergency. The County continues to process rental assistance applications as quickly as possible with added staff over the past year to accommodate assistance applications.

Rental assistance priority has been given to households that are considered extremely low income, which in Marin would be a family of three with an income of no more than $43,550. Nationally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are often at the highest risk of housing displacement. The County recognizes that those most in need of eviction protection experience barriers to access such a program. While more than two-thirds of non-Hispanic white residents are homeowners in Marin, roughly three-quarters of both Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities in Marin are renters.

Between state and federal funds, the County’s pandemic rental assistance program was awarded $36,414,871 of which $23,970,885 has been distributed to 1,260 local households in need. There is a remaining balance of $8,579,705, which will serve the remaining applicants and waiting list and is anticipated to be spent by September 30, 2022.

Clearing accumulated debt is designed to provide a lifeline to the hardest-hit families and provide income stability for landlords. Several local agencies, such as Canal Alliance, Community Action Marin, and North Marin Community Services, are assisting applicants with the process.

Property owners may call the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit at (415) 473-6450 for assistance on rights and responsibilities. Renters are encouraged to contact Legal Aid of Marin at (415) 492-0230, extension 102, for inquiries on eviction protections.

Anyone needing help with the online application may call (415) 473-2223 or email staff to learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. More information about the County’s eviction moratorium is on the County’s COVID-19 Renter Protections webpage.

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