California Rep. Schiff proposes bill to turn government buildings into affordable housing


It is estimated that the U.S. government owns 45,000 underutilized buildings and Representative Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, wants to see this vast resource repurposed to fight the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

That is why on Tuesday morning, April 1, he introduced the Government Facilities to Affordable Housing Conversion Act. If passed, the bill would create an annual report on government properties that are suitable for residential reuse and the bill would provide $250 million each year from fiscal year 2025 to 2030 to incentivize conversion projects.

“In a time where so many Americans are continually struggling to find safe, affordable housing, the Government Facilities to Affordable Housing Conversion Act represents a step forward in our efforts to address the housing crisis,” said Schiff in a statement. “By repurposing government buildings that have outlived their original use, we’re not only making efficient use of our resources but also increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

Schiff, running for the U.S. Senate in California in November, has touted the adaptive reuse of buildings as one of his key strategies to address the nation’s homelessness and housing affordability crises — both of which have reached record highs.

A recent Harvard University study found that 22.4 million households, or about half of the nation’s renters, are “rent burdened” — meaning they spend 30% or more of their income for housing.

Across the U.S., there is a shortage of 7 million housing units that are affordable to renters below the poverty line or renters who make 30% or less of their area’s median income, a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found. California needs to build 2.5 million new units by 2030, of which 1 million must be priced at affordable levels, in order to meet the state’s housing needs, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

“We cannot stand by while the housing shortage displaces families and erodes the middle class. It’s time to employ a broad range of strategies to ensure that every American has access to a safe, affordable place to call home,” said Schiff.

Schiff’s bill would direct the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to facilitate the conversion of property owned by federal, state, and local government into affordable residential rental projects.

The legislation would require an annual report that examines whether real estate owned by the federal government is being optimized, whether the amount of real estate owned by the federal government should be reduced and whether it is suitable to conversion into housing.

It would also establish a $250 million grant fund for each of the fiscal years 2025 through 2030, which the states, and federally recognized Indian Tribes, and local governments could use to cover the cost of purchasing eligible buildings and turning them into affordable housing.

The bill is cosponsored by California Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Riverside and Rhode Island Rep. Gabe Amo, D-Pawtucket. It has the backing of California State Association of Counties, the National Association of Realtors, the National Community Development Association, and People Assisting the Homeless.

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