In January, I got a notification from LinkedIn that I had just reached my eight-year workivesary at the Housing Action Coalition. Looking back on the near-decade I’ve spent advocating for housing, it’s moving to think about how much progress has been made. I can still remember when I first joined the organization in 2016 and spent months (unsuccessfully) advocating for San Francisco to implement a local density bonus program. During that early period of my advocacy career, I have to admit there were many moments when I wondered if the problem we were trying to solve was actually… solvable. The shortage of homes was so severe, the prices of homes were so high, and it felt like the political opposition to building more housing was so entrenched that my vision of an affordable, equitable, and sustainable San Francisco was a bit of a pipe dream. I’d be lying if I said the many late nights I spent in Room 400 of City Hall listening to San Francisco residents arguing against new housing because it would cast shadows didn’t cause little moments of pessimism.
Eight years later, however, I’ve been able to witness what passionate, tireless advocacy can accomplish. It’s incredible to think about the number of wins the pro-housing movement has accomplished and the amount of growth HAC has experienced. In terms of HAC, in those eight years, we went from being a three-person organization, primarily focused on San Francisco housing politics, to a six-person team, working across the Bay Area and California at the state and local level. In terms of the greater pro-housing movement, if 2016-Corey heard that we ended single-family zoning, streamlined the affordable housing approvals process, and shifted the narrative on housing.
And that progress shows no signs of slowing down in 2024. This year we’re preparing to sponsor Senate Bill 937, which temporarily defers cities’ collection of development fees, allowing more projects to pencil out. The legislation also extends entitlements, providing home builders with more flexibility to navigate the challenging market conditions that have impeded housing production in recent months. In total, we expect to sponsor five pieces of state legislation this session ranging from fee reform to Coastal Commission reform, to helping reign in rouge state agencies that don’t consider housing when passing new rules.
We’re also setting our sights on PG&E and broader utility company reform. After several conversations with HAC members, we’ve set forth plans to work with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to advocate for solutions that will remove barriers to housing production caused by utility companies. This is a long, bureaucratic process but is a top priority for HAC this year.
In addition to our state and local policy work, HAC will continue to deliver our unique blend of grasstops housing advocacy. From endorsing well-designed, well-located housing projects to educating and activating residents to speak up in support of pro-housing proposals in their neighborhoods, HAC has ambitious goals for 2024.
As we move forward, I encourage HAC members and supporters to stay committed and invest in HAC. Your support is crucial for addressing the challenges ahead, and together, we can make a lasting impact on the housing landscape.