California

‘I was struggling:’ Sacramento residents tell Gov. Gavin Newsom what it’s like to pay the rent

Find out why Governor Newsom feels ‘the California dream is in peril’

Governor Gavin Newsom held a panel discussion about housing affordability and rising rents on Tuesday, March 26, 2018 in Sacramento.
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Governor Gavin Newsom held a panel discussion about housing affordability and rising rents on Tuesday, March 26, 2018 in Sacramento.

A Sacramento preschool teacher and her 2-year-old would be homeless without financial support.

A 27-year-old woman lives with two roommates in West Sacramento despite having a full-time job.

A 71-year old woman says without help she couldn’t afford rent in the city on the less-than $1,000 per month she receives from Social Security.

The three women all met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday for a roundtable discussion of rising rents and the struggle to find affordable housing in Sacramento.

“I wanted to highlight this issue, but not through the lens of a politician whose residence is the governor’s mansion,” said Newsom, who recently bought a $3.7 million home in Fair Oaks. “I am the last person to preach on this topic. I think however, you are uniquely positioned, so that’s why I’m grateful you took the time to be here.”

Megan Colbert said she was homeless while pregnant with her 2 ½-year-old son and lived at a shelter.

Now, the single mom receives assistance from a Sacramento program for young homeless mothers called Waking the Village so she can afford to live in the city, where she works as an infant and preschool teacher.

“I was struggling,” Collbert said. “I lived in Sacramento all my life, and I want to be a part of this community, adding that she wouldn’t be able to live in the area without help.

Sarah Dillingham, 71, said without subsidized housing, she wouldn’t even be able to afford to put down a deposit for an apartment, let alone pay rent every month.

Taylor Desmangles, 27, said she and her roommates can’t afford to live separately, but lucked out when they found a three-bedroom apartment in West Sacramento. It’s relatively affordable for them, but she said their rent just went up $150 to $1700 per month.

The Democratic governor said he’s working with the Legislature to provide protections for renters like the women he spoke with Tuesday. He said he’s open to considering rent caps, subsidies for renters and more legal protections against eviction.

Liberal Democrats in the Legislature have introduced bills to carry out those policies, but Newsom declined to endorse any specific proposals until his negotiations with lawmakers are further along.

Newsom has proposed spending $1.75 billion to encourage cities and counties to build more housing. He’s in the middle of budget negotiations with the Legislature, but said the next budget will include an “unprecedented” amount of money for housing.

Despite criticism from fellow Democrats in the Legislature, he also said he won’t back down on his plan to restrict road repair funding from communities that don’t work hard enough to build more housing. He said he’s spending hundreds of millions to help communities plan for new housing so they won’t have an excuse not to step up construction.

“It’s too big of a crisis for me to roll over,” he said. “I’ll take the hits, but I’m going to do my best to get this over the edge.”

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