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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Affordable HousingAssemblymember Alex Lee wants to bring social housing to California

Assemblymember Alex Lee wants to bring social housing to California

In late January, California State Assemblymember Alex Lee (District 24) introduced AB 309, which seeks to address the shortage of affordable housing now spanning all income levels across the state. The bill was crafted by five Democratic Party Assemblymembers (Ash Kalra, Wendy Carrillo, Chris Ward, Steve Bennett, and Matt Haney) and three Democratic Senators (Caroline Menjivar, Ben Allen, and Scott Wiener).

Social housing frames housing as a human right, ensuring publicly developed, maintained, and owned housing for all. To accomplish this, a California Housing Authority (CHA) would be created, to build and acquire self-sustaining homes that cannot be sold for profit.

This idea would be new to Americans but familiar to those in other countries. For example, in Vienna, 62% of residents currently live in social housing. In Singapore, 87% percent of residents do.

But in the San Francisco Bay Area, less than 20% of residents can afford to buy homes. Bay Area houses carry a median price of $1.15 million, over three times the national average. Statewide, 40% of households deal with unaffordable housing costs (meaning more than 30% of household income goes directly into housing).

Said Lee in an email interview with The Beat, “Publicly developed, maintained, and owned housing for Californians of all socioeconomic levels is the key to solving our housing crisis — the state is already getting in the business of housing, but we lack a focused state public developer to do it at scale. As we look around the world, in Vienna and Singapore, two places with very different political systems, the majority of residents live in social housing and spend far less of their income on rent. We need to act now before more of our friends and neighbors are priced out to more affordable housing markets, and I’m hopeful as the momentum is shifting in America; Seattle just passed a referendum to pursue social housing, and there are efforts elsewhere including in Hawaii and Maryland.”

Learn more about California’s social housing plan here.

Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer & filmmaker. As a screenwriter, he’s won a Fade In Award and written numerous feature films in development by companies including WWE, Mandalay Sports Media, Game1, and Select Films. He is also the resident script doctor for Rebel Six Films (producers of A&E’s “Hoarders”). As a journalist, Eric’s won a California Journalism Award and is co-owner and editor of The Milpitas Beat, a Silicon Valley newspaper with tens of thousands of monthly readers that has won the Golden Quill Award as well as the John Swett Award for Media Excellence. As a filmmaker, Eric’s directed award-winning feature films that have premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and Shriekfest, and been endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Eric’s apocalyptic novella “It’s Only Temporary” appears next to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on Nightmare Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Horror Novels of All Time. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.


  1. Pure socialism just like Vienna, Austria and other European governments they so admire. (Newsom’s office cited as a model Norway’s approach to incarceration https://www.kron4.com/news/newsom-will-remake-san-quentin-prison-emphasizing-rehab/) Government control of housing funded through increased taxation. The Government isn’t really good at handling projects on time and under budget. Ever have to deal with IRS or even DMV? What’s the cost and how much will they have to increase your taxes to pay for this?

    In Vienna (Austria) taxes are on a sliding scale, depending on income. If you make $35k, you pay 30%, $69k pay 42%, $100k pay 50% and up. What’s your CA tax rate now? Willing to greatly increase your taxes?

    Singapore tax rate is a flat 14%, but the govt. doesn’t pay for healthcare, welfare and pensions unless the person and family has no means to do so. The “no means to do so” is very hard to prove and being homeless has an EXTREMELY negative social stigma towards it. Our govt. does pay for those benefits with the taxes it already collects.

    So, how much are you willing to be taxed to build a homeless warehouse? Think this will make California a better/cheaper place to do business/raise a family” Think it will attract more productive people or those looking for free handouts?

    BTW, I see Tran’s Sango Court project is almost done. Yeah him and those who helped! Hillview was supposed to “transition” people into productive society. How’s that going? How many people have transitioned? How are the number of police calls to Hillview compared to Dave and Busters?

    All Democrats pushing for this. Well, you deserve what you vote for.

    • What a pile of garbage! Let’s start with the first 2 words, “Pure socialism”. Pure means 100%, yet none of the cited countries do that. There is a mix of private, corporate, and government properties.
      The rest of this diatribe is a mix of disinformation, fear-mongering speculation, and government hating.

  2. I believe Assemblyman Lee needs to learn more about Singapore before he proposes anything more. Everyone also needs to understand that when he states that he wants to take the profit out of housing that means YOUR profit! The Dem’s have already taken the first step to destroy intergenerational wealth with Prop 19. Watch out for theses proposals.

    • 2 “inside baseball” comments, 1 vague warning about “theses proposals”, and a questionable and unsubstantiated assertion.
      You could at least assert that increasing housing stock as proposed by our Assembly representative would lead to a classic supply/demand shift causing all housing prices to drop. So what? Are you thinking like the morbidly rich who don’t care about other people’s housing needs, only increasing their already obscene wealth?
      We have a housing supply/demand imbalance which is leading to lots of problems. The capitalist/private market has not solved the problem, so We the People should try. Frankly, I think we should really whack the demand side by taxing outside investors like those on Wall Street. Screw them! Here is why: Wall Street’s Barons are Causing Homelessness: Can We Stop Them?


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