Proposed Fee on Realty Documents Targets California’s Affordable Housing Shortage

California's astronomical housing costs have reached a point where economists say hundreds of thousands of "affordable” units are now needed.

Besides scarcity of money for that cause, the will of the voters is in serious question – they have a history of rejecting ways of fundraising.

But a state lawmaker from San Diego has an idea.

State Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) wants to charge what she calls a "modest" $75 fee on the recording of certain real estate transactions.

That could generate around hundreds of millions of dollars a year for a housing trust fund that would bankroll low-income projects.

“It’s something that’s been done in nine other states to help provide funding,” Atkins told NBC 7 in an interview recorded Friday for Sunday’s edition of “Politically Speaking”.

Her legislation, SB 2, has worked its way through two committees in the State Senate and is headed for review on the Assembly side.

Atkins notes that one in eight Americans lives in California - and one in five Californians spend at least half their income on housing.

California’s average rent is twice the national average.

Atkins says every $500 million dollars would create nearly 30,000 jobs.

The state has lost a billion dollars of revenue a year since redevelopment was eliminated back in 2011.

Leading credit ratings firms say the housing shortage is a drag on the state's economy.

According to Atkins, 22 percent of the country's population listed as "homeless" is in California.

"The reason our poverty percentages are so high is all directly related to housing costs,” Atkins said. “We've done so much in the state to provide for our vulnerable Californians, but if we don't deal with the housing crisis, everything else we try to do is going to keep those numbers high."

SB 2 has been endorsed by the California Realtors Association and other business organizations.

Meantime, there's an Assembly proposal circulating in the capitol’s processes to eliminate vacation-home tax credits and apply the new revenue to 3,000 affordable housing units.

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