Property Transfer Taxes Gain Traction as Cities Search for Ways to Address Homelessness

San Jose, California is the latest city to consider raising its real property transfer tax to fund homeless programs.

1 minute read

June 3, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


South San Jose houses

SchuminWeb / Wikimedia Commons

Emily Deruy reports on the effort to find new revenue for funding homeless programs in San Jose, California.

According to a new survey of more than 1,200 registered voters, a general obligation bond measure aimed at providing housing for homeless residents would be unlikely to clear the two-thirds majority required to pass in 2020. So instead, the city is considering a new real property transfer tax — a tax that is paid by the buyer, the seller or split when a property is sold or ownership transfers, with some exceptions, such as for an inheritance.

The real property transfer tax would only require a simple majority to pass, unlike the bong idea. Real property transfer taxes are increasingly the tax of choice for cities around the San Francisco Bay Area as a way to generate new revenue to address homelessness, according to the article. An editorial in The Mercury News calls for voters to reject such measures to protect the equity collected by property owners.

Deruy's coverage includes more information on the methodology and findings of the survey, and the ensuing response by local officials.

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