By Sarah Hill
It’s not just you (or me): Housing affordability is on everyone’s mind these days.
On Election Day, voters in six states approved ballot measures to help address housing affordability concerns—particularly for veterans.
Voters in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, Utah and Virginia said yes to an array of financing strategies, including general obligation bonds, tax exemptions and other tax reforms, and allowing municipalities to fund privately owned affordable housing developments.
Ballot Measures That Survived the Election
California’s Proposition 1 passed with 54 percent of voters authorizing $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, loans, grants and projects for veterans.
California voters also approved Proposition 2 with 61 percent of the vote. Proposition 2 authorizes the state to use $2 billion in revenue bonds generated by Proposition 63 (2004) for homelessness-prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services.
Proposition 63, passed by voters in 2004, initiated a 1 percent tax on incomes over $1 million and requires the revenue be spent on mental health services. A vote of the people was required to change the use of funds.
Georgia’s Referendum B passed handedly with 76 percent of the vote. It provides that all 501(c)(3) nonprofit homes for people with mental disabilities and qualified disabled veterans be exempt from ad valorem taxation.
Voters in Louisiana approved Amendment 5 with 71 percent of the vote. This state constitutional amendment allows special property tax assessment for a home in a trust for a resident who is the settlor of the trust and is a disabled veteran, a surviving spouse of a first responder who died during their duties, active-duty member of the military, law enforcement officer or firefighter.
Voters in Oregon approved Measure 102 by 56 percent. This state Constitutional amendment allows municipal corporations to use bonded indebtedness to finance capital costs of affordable housing, with certain limitations. The state constitution did not previously allow bond revenue to be used in projects with private owners or stakeholders.
With 78 percent of the vote, Utah voters approved state Constitutional amendment A. This amendment modifies a provision relating to a property tax exemption for active-duty personnel and spouses and to shorten the time of service required to qualify for a property tax exemption.
Finally, Ballot question No. 2 passed with 84 percent of the vote in Virginia to remove place-of-residence restrictions for spouses of disabled veterans to receive a tax exemption. Previously, surviving spouses had to reside in the home of their deceased spouses. This legislatively-referred state Constitutional amendment removes this restriction so that surviving spouses can move to a new primary residence and retain this benefit.
Ballot Measures That Didn’t Make the Cut
California had two other measures on the ballot that did not pass, Proposition 5 and Proposition 10. Those sought to lower the amount of property tax collected from new homebuyers age 55 and older and would have repealed certain rent control provisions respectively.
Check out NCSL’s State Ballot Measures database for more information on these and other ballot measures.
Not on the Ballot: Evictions
According to 50-state data collected and analyzed by the EvictionLab at Princeton University, widespread evictions are forcing more and more families onto the streets and into cycles of instability. Are we experiencing an eviction epidemic? You decide. Listen to NCSL’s podcast with New York Times bestselling author and Nobel Prize recipient Matthew Desmond.
Sarah Hill is a research analyst with NCSL’s Children and Families Program. She covers affordable housing, homelessness, family law and anti-poverty issues.