California Senator Jim Beall and Governor Jerry Brown Fight for Affordable Housing

Jim Beall

Democratic state senator representing Silicon Valley, Jim Beall personally experienced housing insecurity. In 1966 when the now senator was 12, the Beall’s house burned down leaving the family homeless. They lost everything.

“It really set the family back,” Beall said. “The first few weeks, we had all 12 of us in a motel room.” For months the family split up around the city, sleeping on the couches of friends and relatives.

Beall’s family was able to rebuild through a loan similar to loans that would be available to low-income Californians and veterans under the senator’s new measure.

Senator Beall, with empathy from experience, addressed the need for affordable housing by passing Senate Bill 3. Bill 3 creates a $4 billion bond to battle homelessness with a variety of affordable-housing programs, including $1 billion in home loans to veterans.

During a Sacramento news conference, Sen. Beall reflected, There’s a lot of us who have had those personal experiences of homelessness.”

In agreement with the senator’s statement, late last month Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 3 at a San Francisco public ceremony. Next year California voters will decide whether to approve the bond required to fund the bill. Bond funding for Bill 3 — totaling $15 billion when considering federal tax credits — will possibly be the largest state housing bond in U.S. history.

Bill 3 would mean “the opportunity to finally have some really meaningful tools for the state to address [housing] affordability,” said Jennifer Loving, the executive director of the San Jose homelessness nonprofit organization, Destination:Home. “Without this, we’re perpetuating a crisis of suffering for people who can’t afford to live and work in many parts of the state.”

Opponents to funding the bill, however, argue it adds billions to the state’s debt.

During six years in the state Assembly and four years in the state Senate, Sen. Beall, earning the moniker, “the lone wolf,” has always spoken his mind on housing and foster care reform, and has strongly promoted help for the mentally disabled. “He fights for the most vulnerable with a ferocity unmatched,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles.

This year Sen. Beall has also sponsored a new gas tax to fund road and transit improvements, and a bill to fund traffic congestion programs that may increase tolls on Bay Area bridges.

Senate Bill 3 is one of a Senate housing bill package passed to address the housing crisis in California.

For more on Senator Jim Beall’s promotion of Bill 3 for affordable housing, see THE MERCURY NEWS: How watching his family’s home burn inspired Sen. Jim Beall to fight for affordable housing, from which much of this information was derived.

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