A teacher points to information on a white board as several students gather in a semi circle to read the board

Faculty and other employees at California’s 73 community college districts could benefit from AB 1719 (Ward) becoming law. California’s housing market has made it impossible for them to find affordable housing in the communities where they work. (SDCCD photo)

New bill opens door to affordable employee housing at CA community colleges

October 3, 2022 | San Diego Community College District

Efforts to provide California community colleges employees with more affordable housing options recently got a boost when Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1719, the Community College Faculty and Employee Housing Act of 2022.

From left, Mesa College President Ashanti Hands, Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), SDCCD Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez, and Miramar College President P. Wesley Lundburg.
From left, Mesa College President Ashanti Hands, Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), SDCCD Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez, and Miramar College President P. Wesley Lundburg.

Authored by Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego), AB 1719 makes community college districts eligible for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to build affordable rental housing for employees.

Earlier this year, the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) approached Ward about sponsoring the legislation. For months, the district has worked closely with him and other supporters to ensure the bill’s passage. After receiving considerable support in the Legislature, the bill was signed by the Governor on September 28.

According to SDCCD Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez, AB 1719 will benefit efforts to build more affordable employee housing across the California Community Colleges system, which employs approximately 92,500 across 73 districts.

“We’ve all witnessed skyrocketing housing costs which have priced many employees out of the market,” Chancellor Cortez said. “This is an important new tool for community college districts to do their part in addressing California’s affordable housing crisis.”

The Teacher Housing Act of 2016 enabled K-12 districts to implement programs that address the housing needs of teachers and school district employees who face challenges in securing affordable housing. Under existing law, a program established under the act is restricted to “teacher or school district employees,” except as specified. AB 1719 adds community college employees and faculty to the Teacher Housing Act of 2016, clarifying that community college districts can limit occupancy to their own employees and still be eligible for local and state funds or LIHTCs.

“AB 1719 is a critical step toward addressing the shortage of affordable housing available for community college students and staff,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). “Nearly 60% of California community college students have reported being housing insecure in recent years. By allowing the flexibility to apply for necessary tax credits, community college school districts will have access to more resources to provide additional options as the demand for student and staff housing continues to grow each year.”

Among those endorsing the bill were the Community College League of California, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and several individual college districts.

Chancellor Cortez says building affordable employee and student housing is an important goal for the SDCCD, given that San Diego is one of the least affordable housing markets in the state. While AB 1719 opens the door to federal tax credits, it does not come with any specific funding for planning or construction. For that reason, the SDCCD is developing a comprehensive housing strategy that identifies funding sources and likely partners within the community.

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