AB 919 will help keep families in their homes and preserve affordable housing
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San José) introduced AB 919, the Stable Homes Act, to give tenants, local public agencies, and mission-driven nonprofits a first opportunity to purchase or match an offer on rental housing properties when owners choose to put them up for sale. AB 919 is sponsored by California Reinvestment Coalition, Housing California, and Public Advocates.
“When low-income people are priced out of their homes, we see increased housing instability, overcrowding, and financial burdens that make it impossible for working families to afford other essentials. It also harms our environment, as displacement means workers have to move farther from job centers and become mega-commuters,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “AB 919 can be an instrumental piece in solving the state’s housing crisis by allowing an opportunity for families to stay in their homes, build generational wealth, and preserve at-risk affordable housing.”
Under AB 919, when a rental property owner chooses to sell their property, the tenants and eligible entities would be given the first opportunity to purchase the property by making an initial offer, with an appropriate time period to secure financing. If the owner chooses to accept that offer, the sale will be finalized and the process is done. If the owner does not accept that offer, the owner can accept a different offer from any third party on the private market. The tenants or eligible entities can then choose to exercise a right-of-first-refusal to match the offer from the third party that the seller intends to accept, and acquire the property. Properties acquired by tenants or eligible entities under this bill will be preserved as permanently affordable with built-in protections for existing and future tenants.
Several states have similar “right of first offer” policies including Massachusetts, Delaware, and Colorado. Washington DC and San Francisco also have related policies.
“Californians understand that safe, stable, affordable housing is foundational to health and prosperity. But for millions of low-income renters this basic need is going unmet. AB 919 tackles this problem by creating a new mechanism to preserve affordability of our existing housing stock. By leveling the playing field in a way that allows renters and non-profit affordable housing providers to compete with private investors, AB 919 will expand California's supply of permanently affordable housing and move us towards a future where everyone has a stable home,” said Chione Flegal, Executive Director of Housing California. “We commend Assemblymember Kalra for championing this important issue.”
“For far too long, California communities have been oppressed by profit-driven corporate landlords who destabilize the housing market and threaten their security to remain housed. It is high time that we introduce policy that prioritizes people and families rather than profits. AB 919 is the best path forward to getting homes out of the hands of corporate landlords and giving working-class families and Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities a real opportunity to build generational wealth through homeownership,” said Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, California Reinvestment Coalition CEO.
“Too many California families are being pushed out of their homes and at risk of facing homelessness,” said Public Advocates’ Legislative Counsel, Andrés Ramos. “This policy gives families and nonprofits an opportunity to keep our neighbors housed and communities together.”
AB 919 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Mia Bonta (D-Oakland), Alex Lee (D-San José), and Liz Ortega (D-San Leandro). Over 50 advocacy organizations have already voiced support for the bill.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents California’s 25th Assembly District, which encompasses the majority of San José, including downtown and open space areas northeast of Santa Clara County. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history, and was re-elected to his fourth term in 2022. Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.