Legislation to improve access to rental housing for California’s low-income pet owners passed out of the Senate Housing Committee today with a 6-0 vote. SB 971, authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), will expand pet-inclusive policies for housing financed through the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program.
“For too many Californians these days, especially people with pets, finding and securing affordable rental housing can be an unduly arduous and complex process. The last thing they need is another hurdle,” said Senator Newman. “SB 971 will ensure that simply having a pet won’t be yet another barrier to entering state-subsidized low-income housing.”
Each year, millions of pets enter California’s animal shelters. One of the most frequently cited reasons for relinquishing a pet is because of a housing, moving, or landlord issue. Despite the fact that three-quarters of renters are pet owners, pet-inclusive housing in California remains scarce. Between the lack of pet-friendly housing, and expensive or restrictive provisions within available properties, low-income Californians are most affected.
“For two decades, California has earmarked funding to support its residents and increase access to affordable housing, dedicating resources to strengthening the human-animal bond by keeping pets and their families together,” stated Jessica Simpson, a Senior Public Policy Specialist with The Humane Society of the United States. She added, “Nevertheless, housing that welcomes pets is scarce and out of reach for many families. We applaud Sen. Newman for introducing SB 971, to help ensure that no family must choose between their pet and a roof over their head.”
SB 971 builds upon AB 1137 (2017) to require housing developments financed with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to authorize a resident to own one or more household common pets. It also would direct these housing developments, as well as those financed through HCD, to have pet-inclusive policies that are free from breed or weight restrictions and do not require tenants to pay monthly pet fees on top of regular monthly rent and security deposits.
This bill is supported by a growing coalition of animal welfare and housing advocates including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, Housing Equity & Advocacy Resource Team (HEART L.A.), Humane Society of the United States (Sponsor), Mars, RedRover and Social Compassion in Legislation.