California Governor Signs Legislation to Increase Pet-Friendly Low-Income Housing Development to Help Keep Pets and Families Together

SACRAMENTO, CA—On Friday, September 2, amid an ongoing housing crisis in California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 971 into law to prevent further displacement of vulnerable families and their pets. State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) introduced the legislation, which will protect low-income California pet owners and help create more affordable housing communities. SB 971 will improve the supply of affordable rental housing that allows pets. In addition, the new law expands access to these subsidized housing by encouraging the development of low-income, pet-friendly housing. Some housing providers will not be allowed to restrict pets based on breed or weight. They will also not be allowed to charge non-refundable pet-related fees, such as “pet rent”, in addition to regular security deposits and monthly rent. This applies to housing funded by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee and the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

An overwhelming number of animals enter California shelters due to factors affecting their owners’ ability to care for them, many of which are often beyond the owners’ control. Housing, moving or landlord issues are among the most frequently cited reasons for pet abandonment. SB 971 will build on existing law by expanding pet inclusion policies for housing funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit ( LIHTC).

“The Humane Society of the United States strongly believes that pets are part of the family and that family is never disposable. Housing is a fundamental element in creating equity for pet ownership and keeping families together,” said Jenny Berg, California State Director for HSUS. “SB 971 prevents individuals from having to choose between keeping a beloved pet and finding affordable housing — a choice devastating that no one should have to deal with. We thank Senator Newman for drafting this important legislation and we are grateful to Governor Newsom for signing into law SB 971.”

“People who live in affordable rental housing or are looking for affordable rental housing shouldn’t have to go through the anguish and strain of giving up a beloved pet,” said Senator Josh Newman. “SB 971 will ensure that more California families can move into safe, affordable housing with their dogs, felines or other family pets.”

This legislation will mean more families across California should be able to stay intact, even in times of crisis, when the company of a beloved pet is most important. California has always prioritized the connection between people and their pets, and we’re so proud to have worked alongside Senator Newman to help ensure that Californians living in or looking for affordable rental housing don’t have to to experience the anguish of giving up a cherished pet because of a lack of safe and affordable housing.

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