Press Release

Pet-Inclusive Housing Expanded for Low-Income Californians

Sacramento, Calif. — Legislation to improve access to rental housing for California’s low-income pet owners has been signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 971, authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), will require that all new housing financed through the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program is pet-inclusive.

“People living in or seeking affordable rental housing should not be forced to experience the anguish and strain of relinquishing a beloved pet,” said Senator Josh Newman. “SB 971 ensures that more California families will be able to move into safe and affordable housing with their canine, feline or other animal members of the family.”

Each year, millions of pets are forced into California’s animal shelters. Housing, moving or landlord issues are among the most frequently cited reasons for relinquishing a pet. Even though 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.

“The Humane Society of the United States firmly believes that pets are family, and family is never disposable. Housing is a foundational building block in creating equity for pet ownership and keeping families together,” said Jenny Berg, California State Director for the HSUS. “SB 971 prevents individuals from having to choose between keeping a beloved pet and finding an affordable place to live—a devastating choice no one should have to confront.  We thank Sen. Newman for authoring this important legislation and we are grateful to Gov. Newsom for signing SB 971 into law.”

SB 971 builds upon AB 1137 (2017) to require housing developments financed with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to accept a resident who owns one or more household common pets. The bill 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 legislation is supported by an expansive coalition of animal welfare organizations, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Best Friends Animal Society, California Animal Welfare Association, Housing Equity & Advocacy Resource Team (HEART L.A.), Humane Society of the United States (Sponsor), Mars, Orange County United Way, RedRover, San Diego Humane Society and Social Compassion in Legislation.

To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Lizzie Cootsona at 916.651.4029.


“Pets are incredible sources of love and companionship in our lives, and financial circumstances alone do not reflect an individual’s capacity to love and care for a companion animal,” said Susan Riggs, Senior Director of Housing Policy for the ASPCA. “The ASPCA believes that people and pets belong together, and we are grateful to Senator Newman for his leadership on Senate Bill 971, which will open up thousands of new housing opportunities for families with pets by requiring housing units financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credit be pet-friendly.”

"Pets provide companionship, unconditional love, numerous health benefits and a sense of purpose for the people who love them. Yet vulnerable Californians often have difficulty finding affordable pet-inclusive housing. We are grateful to Senator Newman for introducing SB 971 to help ensure that more pets can stay with their families instead of being surrendered to shelters due to housing barriers,” said Elizabeth Oreck, National Manager of Housing Initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society.

“I would never leave my dog- they are my family,” is a consistent statement we at the Housing Equality & Advocacy Resource Team (HEART L.A.) hear from tenants with pets being threatened with eviction or when looking for pet-inclusive housing. One of the main reasons tenants relinquish their companion animals to shelters is due to a housing related issue. HEART L.A. has seen firsthand the impact of pet-inclusive housing keeping families together with their beloved pets. We applaud Senator Newman for taking the lead with SB 971 which eliminates barriers for low-income families with pets to access safe and secure housing,” said Dianne Prado, Executive Director, HEART L.A.

“While three-quarters of renters have pets, pet-inclusive housing in California still remains scarce. RedRover believes pets are family and we work hard to keep people and their pets together - through crises while they've been temporarily separated during a natural disaster, or helping domestic violence survivors and their pets escape abuse. We support SB 971 because it will ensure that families who have to relocate, regardless of the circumstances, won't have to relinquish a cherished pet due to the lack of access to affordable and pet-inclusive housing,” said Nicole Forsyth, President and CEO, RedRover. 

"Through war and peace, we see people go to great lengths to stay united with their companion animals," said Judie Mancuso, President and CEO, Social Compassion in Legislation. "Californians should not have to make the choice between affordable housing and staying united with their furry family members. Many times people will choose homelessness to stay with their closest companion. SB 971 is a compassionate policy for people and their loved ones and a smart policy for California."



State Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which is comprised of portions of Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Bernardino County. The 29th District includes all or parts of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, City of Industry, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Stanton, Walnut, West Covina and Yorba Linda. Senator Newman is a former United States Army officer, businessperson, and veterans’ advocate, and lives in Fullerton with his wife and daughter.