Governor Newsom Signs Historic Faith Housing Bill
On Third Attempt, JPAC Priority Bill Streamlining Process for Houses of Worship to Build Affordable Housing is Signed into Law
October 11, 2023
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 4, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco) and a top priority for JPAC. SB 4 provides a streamlined process for religious organizations and nonprofit colleges to develop affordable housing on their property. This was the third attempt to pass this bill, and it passed both houses of the legislature with overwhelming, bipartisan support.
“We’re thrilled that Governor Newsom signed this significant bill into law,” said David Bocarsly, JPAC’s Executive Director. “Many synagogues and houses of worship are eager to do more than volunteer and donate – they want to build affordable housing and bring their neighbors off the streets for good. This law will allow communities of faith to truly live into their values. We’re deeply grateful to Senator Wiener for championing this bill year after year. And we’re proud to be part of a historic coalition of faith, labor, housing, and community groups that worked to get this across the finish line.”
SB 4 allows faith institutions and nonprofit colleges to build 100% affordable housing on their property by-right. It automatically rezones the properties and ensures that these institutions will not need to go through expensive and difficult rezoning and discretionary approval processes. It makes it much more feasible and cost-effective for synagogues and other places of worship to support their low-income and unhoused neighbors, and may also provide institutions with a new source of consistent revenue that proves critical to their ability to stay in operation.
JPAC was the leading faith organization co-sponsoring the bill. The other co-sponsors are the California Conference of Carpenters, Inner City Law Center, Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH), and Southern California Association of Non-profit Housing (SCANPH). JPAC organized 28 other Jewish organizations to sign on in support, and it became a priority for the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which Senator Wiener co-chairs.
IKAR, a synagogue in Los Angeles building affordable housing on their land, supported the bill so that other faith institutions could follow suit.
“Here in California, we are in an acute housing crisis brought on by decades of underbuilding, excessive single-family zoning, redlining and discriminatory lending,” said Brooke Wirtschafter, Director of Community Organizing at IKAR. “In our communities, renters are increasingly priced out, forced to move away, to double up — and some of the most vulnerable have lost their housing altogether. We can help change that by rethinking how we are using the land we now occupy. That’s why my Jewish community, IKAR, decided to build affordable homes for those who are struggling alongside the home we envision for ourselves. And that’s why we’re grateful that Gov. Newsom has signed SB 4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act, to make it easier for congregations across the state to build affordable housing on their properties and welcome new neighbors into our communities.”
According to a recent report from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center, this law will unlock 171,000 acres of land for affordable housing across California.
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Contact: David Bocarsly, JPAC Executive Director, email@example.com