LA Daily News: Sen. Padilla rekindles Housing for All Act, tackling homelessness and housing affordability

By Linh Tat

Declaring housing as a human right, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla on Wednesday, Feb. 21, announced the reintroduction of a bill he said would offer a comprehensive approach to addressing the nation’s homelessness and affordable housing crises, including in California.

The Housing for All Act, if approved, would result in a historic investment in federal funding to pay for existing programs to prevent homelessness and to provide housing and other support services to those facing homelessness. The money would also fund innovative local initiatives to remedy these crises.

During a news conference on the rooftop of a five-story, 85-unit permanent supportive housing building near downtown L.A. that was largely paid for through California’s Project Homekey program, Padilla said the issue isn’t a lack of ideas for addressing the crises, but providing resources so that proven solutions can be scaled up.

“The problem boils down to scale,” Padilla said. “We know how to help. But we need the full weight of the federal government to meet the moment.”

More than 653,000 people in the country are experiencing homelessness, including more than 181,000 Californians, and there is a shortage of 7.3 million affordable homes nationwide, the senator said.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, who supported the Housing for All Act when she was a member of Congress, joined Padilla and Rep. Ted Lieu, the author of a companion bill to Padilla’s proposed legislation in the House of Representatives, at Wednesday’s news conference.

The mayor said the proposed bill marks another example of all levels of government locking arms and, like Padilla, highlighted the fact that the legislation would support local efforts at addressing homelessness and affordable housing.

“This crisis is not going to be solved at one level of government. This crisis is going to be solved with all levels of government and the private sector coming to the table and saying everybody in Los Angeles has to have skin in the game,” she said.

If the Housing for All Act is passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, it would authorize $45 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund each year through 2033.

In addition, it would allocate tens of billions of dollars more to support housing for seniors and people with disabilities; the construction, purchase or rehabilitation of affordable homes for low-income people; expansion of the housing choice voucher program; and emergency shelters.

It also would provide grants for safe parking programs to individuals living in their vehicles; support the purchase and conversion of hotels or motels into permanent housing; and support eviction protection and mobile crisis intervention programs, among other things.

The Housing for All Act would also establish a commission to focus on racial equity in housing.

Padilla said Wednesday that more members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors, when asked about the chances that the bill will pass out of a divided Congress.

“We believe momentum is building,” he said. “If we can get it to the president’s desk this year, we’re going to do it. If we have to try again next year and keep building momentum, then we’re going to do that because the problem isn’t going away.”

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