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California Lawmakers Looking For Ways To Close Affordable Housing Gap

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — State lawmakers begin a month long recess Friday, but still on the agenda is an issue that affects every Californian—housing.

There are dozens of housing bills on the table. Many seek to create more affordable homes.

Many Democrats are still meeting behind the scenes to talk about getting more money—billions of new dollars—to house people on low income.

"It's been a long strange trip," said Michael Verceli.

A trip that's taken Michael Verceli from the streets of Oakland to one of Northern California's only affordable housing complexes for homeless and disabled veterans. And the former navy veteran doesn't take it for granted.

"There's people clamoring to get in here," he said.

But the $55 million Mather Veteran's Village isn't done. The next phase is on hold. There's just not enough money to finish it. And it's not alone.

"There's billions of dollars of planned and approved projects throughout CA just waiting on the shelves until there's funding," said Donald Terry.

Donald Terry is the mayor of Rancho Cordova and an affordable housing developer. He's pushing state lawmakers to pass a package of new housing bills, requiring California to invest low-income projects.

One measure before lawmakers would levy a $75 fee on real estate transactions, to raise about $300 million for affordable housing every year.

"This is the sixth time that California has tried to pass this bill," he said.

Opponents refuse to pay for it, in the form of higher taxes.

"We're at a historically low moment in terms of funding available from the state and federal levels," said Stephan Daues of Mercy Housing.

As for Verceli, the life's quiet here, but even he can't escape the politics.

"It's all about money; it's always about money," he said.

A few affordable housing bills have passed the Senate, and are expected to head to the Assembly when the legislature returns from recess late next month.

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