We cannot make meaningful progress toward inclusive prosperity in the Bay Area without addressing the housing crisis. That is why we support SB4 – the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act. SB4 would make building affordable housing easier, faster, and cheaper on land owned by faith-based institutions and nonprofit colleges. Given the long-standing leadership of the faith community issues of racial justice and economic inclusion and the amount of land they are interested in developing as affordable housing, there is a tremendous opportunity to help meet California’s housing needs.
A portion of our letter is excerpted below:
Across California, faith-based organizations and non-profit colleges are seeking to partner with affordable housing developers to build critically needed affordable homes on their own land. These faith-based organizations are long-standing community anchors and are driven by their values to support those most in need and help address our homelessness crisis.
Per a study by the UC Berkeley Terner Center, there are approximately 38,800 acres of land—roughly the size of the city of Stockton—used for religious purposes and are potentially developable. A significant share of that acreage (45 percent) is located in the state’s “high” or “highest” resource opportunity areas, signaling an opportunity for building housing in neighborhoods with lower poverty rates and greater economic, educational, and environmental amenities.
Unfortunately, the land that these organizations hold can often be locked into complicated and cost-prohibitive local zoning rules and regulations. These can range from standards which allow only a few units to be built on large parcels to others which limit any housing construction at all.
The variety of red tape and obstacles in the way make development financially infeasible and discourage institutions from moving forward with projects that would benefit their low-income and unhoused neighbors.
SB 4 will streamline the building process and offer new tools for neighborhood leaders to build safe, stable, affordable homes for local residents and families. This bill will allow places of worship to build 100% affordable housing projects, creating a valuable option in the midst of the state’s housing and homelessness crises. It also provides significant untapped benefits for faith-based organizations, from supporting an organization’s charitable mission to providing revenue that can stabilize the organization’s finances.
Read our full letter.
- Read more about SFF’s FAITHS Program
- Read more about SFF’s All-in on Housing work