Gov. Gavin Newsom threatens to cut state funding from cities that don’t approve enough housing

For 50 years, California has required cities and counties to plan for enough new housing so that residents can live affordably. But many local governments fail to approve new development, contributing to the state’s housing crunch. Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a radical new step: punishing communities that block homebuilding by withholding state tax dollars.

Newsom unveiled his proposal Thursday at his state budget presentation, which also included more than $2 billion in new funding for housing and homelessness initiatives. The governor said his aggressive approach speaks to the depth of the state’s problems, which have forced millions of Californians to pay more than half their income on rent, pushed home prices to new highs and added thousands to the homeless population.

“This is a new day and we have to have new expectations, new requirements,” Newsom said, noting that California’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rate is largely driven by escalating housing costs.

The governor’s proposed spending would pay for emergency homeless shelters, subsidize new development for low- and middle-income residents and provide grants to cities and counties to spur more homebuilding, among other ideas. Newsom said he has spoken with Silicon Valley tech leaders, whose industry has fueled strong job growth in the state, about contributing an additional $500 million to support his administration’s affordable housing efforts.

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