Audit: California overlooked potential affordable housing sites

By Nicholas Iovino, Courthouse News Service, March 22, 2022

“As San Francisco considers a proposal to shelter its entire homeless population, a state audit found [on March 22] that a California agency overlooked potential affordable housing sites that could help alleviate the state’s crushing housing crisis.

“In 2019, then-newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order requiring that surplus state-owned property be prioritized as possible sites for affordable housing. The Department of General Services (DGS) identified 92 suitable parcels and has moved forward with plans to convert 19 of them into housing, which could create more than 1,700 new affordable housing units.

“[The report] found DGS failed to communicate with certain state entities, such as the University of California and California State University, that are not directly controlled by the executive branch.

“Citing insufficient staff at DGS, the report estimated it will take the department seven years to move forward with 73 other surplus state properties that could provide an additional 30,000 new affordable housing units.

“To ensure a more effective method for reviewing surplus state land is used in the future, the audit recommends passing a state law that would mandate those assessments occur periodically. Newsom’s 2019 executive order was a one-shot deal and did not require regular reviews of excess state property.

“A spokesperson for state Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who has pushed forward multiple pieces of legislation focused on combatting the state’s housing crisis, said the senator had no comment on the audit’s legislative recommendation.”

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