CA Governor Lifts Barrier for Affordable Intergenerational Housing by Signing Bill by Senator Josh Becker

For Immediate Release

OAKLAND – Governor Gavin Newsom swept away a major barrier to creation of affordable housing for two key populations – seniors and transition-age foster youth – by signing housing legislation today by state Senator Josh Becker.

The Peninsula Democrat’s Senate Bill 591 enables affordable housing developers to build intergenerational housing for the elderly and foster youth transitioning to adulthood by using tax credits for financing. The option had not been available and stymied attempts to build such projects.

“The scale of our housing crisis demands creative solutions,” said Senator Becker. “SB 591 offers a solution to simultaneously address the affordable housing needs of vulnerable seniors and vulnerable young people while enhancing the well-being of both and strengthening the fabric of our communities. Intergenerational living spaces create a dynamic and supportive community that traditional forms of age-restricted housing cannot match.”

Tax credits are well-used tools to help finance affordable housing for people ages 55 and older. However, until SB 591, such financing typically has come with restrictions prohibiting other types of affordable units in the same building. For example, an affordable housing project aimed at serving seniors could not include some units for transition-aged youth, despite the well-documented social and health benefits to seniors associated with intergenerational housing.

Case in point, Senator Becker said as his bill moved through the Legislature, is a project planned by the City of Emeryville, which proposed an affordable housing development that would include 68 units for seniors and transition-age youth.

That project hit a roadblock because of the restrictions on using tax credits for financing, said Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez in her letter to the Governor asking that he sign SB 591.

“Senate Bill 591 helps us move forward,” Mayor Martinez wrote. “This bill will allow seniors and transition-aged youth to live in the same affordable housing complex, provide affordable housing developers greater access to financing, and help reduce our homeless population by providing housing opportunities for transition age youth.”

Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, and Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, coauthored SB 591, which earned overwhelming bipartisan support in both legislative houses with no opposing votes cast against it. SB 591 supporters included Half Moon Bay Mayor Robert Brownstone, Palo Alto Mayor Tom DuBois, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, MidPen Housing, AARP, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, EAH Housing, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, Mentis and the People Concern.

SB 591, which takes effect on January 1, 2022, was one of 27 bills the Governor signed in a ceremony in Oakland. The legislative package streamlines creation of affordable housing and strengthens accountability for its development.


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Photo Courtesy of Senator Josh Becker

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404,