California bill seeks to speed up construction of interim housing

On Monday in San Jose, city and county leaders will gather to announce support for Senate Bill 1395. The proposed bill is set to speed up the time it takes to build interim housing throughout the state.

As cities and counties throughout the state continue to struggle to reduce homelessness, local leaders are looking for ways to get people off the street immediately. Still, one local housing advocate is concerned that interim housing won’t be enough.

"The underlying cause of homelessness is unaffordable rent," said Sandy Perry, South Bay Community Land Trust vice president.

For more than 30 years, Perry has voluntarily worked to house the unsheltered in San Jose. He’s now vice president of the South Bay Land Trust, a non-profit organization created to ensure affordable housing by buying and retaining land in perpetuity.

"As long as the rents keep going up, you’re going to have more people becoming homeless than the ones that you’re helping to get out of being homeless. Until that gets reversed, we’re never going to solve this problem," said Perry.

State. Sen. Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), who sponsored Senate Bill 1395 or the Interim Housing Act of 2024, will join San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, State Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), and others at a newly built interim housing project on Evans Lane. The proposed bill will help to speed up the process of building interim housing, while permanent affordable housing is being constructed.

State Sen. Dave Cortese released a statement about SB 1395, saying: 

"SB 1395 offers a pragmatic approach to providing immediate shelter, promoting dignity, security, and stability for our unhoused population.  This bill is a crucial step toward not just sheltering individuals and families forced to live on the street, but ensuring they have a foundation to secure permanent housing and rebuild their lives." 

Perry says he also supports expanding shelters and interim housing, but he doesn’t believe temporary solutions will keep people from living on the streets.

"The problem with shelters and interim housing is that when your interim period is over, you end up back out on the street unless there is permanent housing being built. That’s why permanent housing is the real solution, and you can’t stop building permanent housing while you’re getting people into interim housing," said Perry. 

Perry also says private builders usually build housing only if they can increase rents, so he believes the state needs to build more mixed-income housing that people can afford.