New Bill Helping Working Renters in Danger of Homelessness Passes Senate, Awaits Governor’s Signature

Article published on august 26, 2022

At SEIU Local 1000, we believe that politics matter because they give us the ability to make important and lasting change in our workplaces and our communities. Recently, the California State Senate approved AB 2817 (Reyes), which would establish the House California Challenge Program to provide direct rental assistance to low-income renters in danger of homelessness. The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.

“California’s housing market is broken and it’s hard-working people like SEIU members and our families who are hurt. It’s shameful that working a good, full-time union job can’t pay the rent in California,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU California and SEIU-United Service Workers West (USWW). “Forty percent of SEIU members in California have experienced the extreme impacts from California’s housing crisis such as sleeping in their cars, staying at shelters, or living in overcrowded housing. This has been an urgent crisis for years, but we haven’t broken the logjams that prevent our state from solving the problem. We’re glad the California Legislature voted to support this bill to assist renters.” 

Members from SEIU locals across the state have been sharing their experiences and demanding significant progress on affordable housing from the state’s leaders this year. 

“Even though I work 14 hours a day at a restaurant in the Sacramento area, I was recently evicted when I fell behind on my rent,” said Maria Bernal, a Jack in the Box worker. “My family slept in our car for about six months. My youngest son was only three years old. We lived in terror that someone would try to break into the car if we slept. I’d think, ‘God, how can we be living like this if I’m working so much?’ I’m glad lawmakers understood that fast food workers and our families can’t afford to live in this state and passed this housing bill. We can’t afford to wait any longer to solve the housing crisis.”

“Because of rising rents, I have so many co-workers for whom every day is harder than the last, having to choose between putting food on the table for their kids, or paying the rent,” said Carolina Rocha, a janitor and member of SEIU USWW. “I’ve also noticed that as rents have gone up, there are more people living on the streets in my community. I’m proud our elected officials displayed empathy for us and worked to pass this bill to the Governor. Now it’s Governor Newsom’s turn to sign this bill into law.”