By Michael Anderson
On November 6, voters in California and in seventeen local jurisdictions across the United States voted YES to twenty-two ballot measures to fund affordable housing and homeless services, committing more than $7.5 Billion for affordable homes. Sixteen of the twenty-two measures passed with more than 60% voter approval.
The biggest victories by volume are California’s Prop 1 ($4 billion to build and preserve housing) and Prop 2 ($2 billion for supportive homes for people with mental illness). Local jurisdictions across the state also saw voters approve funding measures. San Francisco passed a gross receipts tax on businesses with income above $50 million that will raise an estimated $300 million annually in dedicated funds for affordable housing, wrap around services for the chronically homeless, and legal assistance programs. Oakland passed a vacancy tax and real estate transfer tax that will provide ongoing funding for affordable housing. East Palo Alto passed a parcel tax on commercial space, Berkeley passed a $135 million general obligation bond and real estate transfer tax, Napa County and West Marin passed hotel taxes, Mountain View a head tax, and Santa Clara renewed a sales tax dedicated in part to affordable housing and homeless services.
In Oregon, voters the Portland Metro Region passed an historic regional housing bond that secured $652 million for affordable homes in the Metro jurisdiction, which includes the majority of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Additionally, voters statewide in Oregon approved a constitutional amendment that will allow for the more flexible uses of bonds for affordable housing, In Washington, voters in the City of Bellingham renewed and expanded a housing levy, and San Juan County became the first county in Washington state to have a voter-approved funding measure for affordable housing. In Austin, Texas voters passed a $250 million affordable housing bond, the largest in the city’s history. Two revenue measures passed in Telluride, Colorado, a property tax increase and increase to the town debt. Three North Carolina localities, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Orange County, passed housing bonds. In Florida, 73% of voters approved the establishment of an affordable housing trust fund.
For a detailed overview of these housing revenue measures as well as renter protection measures on the November 6 2018 ballot, check out this summary from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.