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California Governor Signs Law To Fast-Track Housing On Churches’ Land

  California Governor   Gavin Newsom   signed a law on Wednesday that speeds up the process for churches and colleges to build affordable ho...

 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law on Wednesday that speeds up the process for churches and colleges to build affordable housing on their parking lots or other property.

The new law, one of many moves to combat California’s homelessness crisis, will rezone land owned by religious institutions like churches, mosques, and synagogues, as well as nonprofit colleges to allow them to build affordable housing.

As of next year, the institutions will be able to skip much of the lengthy process to get environmental approval and bypass most local permit regulations to build the low-income housing units.

Several cities had voiced opposition to the law, saying it would strip control from local governments over housing developments.

The law will sunset in 2036.

California has started to take a more direct approach to its homelessness crisis, which is rapidly worsening.

California has about 170,000 homeless people, the biggest homeless population in the country, according to a report last year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Nearly a third of the country’s homeless people live in California, according to a June statewide study from a research group at the University of California, San Francisco.

Some California cities have particularly dire homeless problems and have struggled to find long-term solutions to curb the problem.


San Francisco has been in the throes of a homelessness crisis for years now, and it has only gotten worse since before the pandemic. About 38,000 people are homeless in the Bay Area on a given night, up 35% since 2019.

Last month, Sacramento’s top prosecutor sued the city over its homeless encampments, accusing city officials of allowing the homeless population to become a public nuisance.

Besides building more affordable housing, California also has a new court-ordered treatment program that goes into effect next week, a significant attempt by the state to get a handle on the addiction and mental illness issues that come with the homelessness crisis.

The Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act program allows families of adults suffering from a serious untreated psychotic disorder to file a petition in civil court for court-ordered treatment. Clinicians, first responders, and others can also file a petition. If the petition is approved, a judge can order a year-long care plan, which can be renewed for a second year.

Also on Wednesday, Newsom announced the Sacramento location of a group of 1,200 tiny homes for homeless people, the first of four groups of these homes that will be build in four cities.

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