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CA affordable housing bills benefiting in political dealing over cap and trade

Construction workers are seen atop a builing of new apartments for sale in Alhambra, east of downtown Los Angeles, on March 23, 2012. Sales of new homes in the United States slipped for the second straight month in February but the median price of homes sold picked up sharply, according to the Commerce Department.    AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
An effort in the California Legislature to address affordable housing is benefiting from negotiations over cap-and-trade legislation pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California's proponents of affordable housing say they've never been so bullish about making a dent in the housing crisis as in the current legislative session.

Votes are planned Monday in Sacramento on a large package of housing bills expected to include millions of dollars in subsidies for low-income housing and policy changes to encourage the production of affordable housing. 

Gov. Jerry Brown has opposed housing subsidies in the past, preferring to push along development by easing regulations. But now Brown needs legislators' help to extend for another 10 years the state’s cap-and-trade program that collects money from polluting companies.

"Cap and trade — because it’s urgent and needs to happen — provided us with an opportunity in our negotiations with the governor," said state Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica).

A vote on the cap-and-trade program is also planned for Monday.

California is in the midst of a growing and crippling housing crisis, with some of the highest home prices and rents in the country. Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco count among the cities with the least affordable housing in the state.

Bloom said he was optimistic the housing package will include eight to 15 bills, including his own,AB 1505, which would allow local governments to require affordable housing in new apartment buildings.

Bloom’s bill is a top priority for Tyrone Buckley, policy director of Housing California, which advocates for affordable housing. He said the measure will allow lower-wage workers to live near their jobs.

Buckley, who has worked in Sacramento for five years, said he has never seen progressive Democrats prioritize housing at this level before. 

"I‘m just pleased that they are leveraging political capital for affordable housing," Buckley said. "I’m as hopeful as I’ve ever been about success for housing this year."

Bloom said other bills that may be part of the package include a new $75 fee on real estate transactions to fund affordable housing as well as a $3 billion low-income housing bond measure planned for 2018.