LOS ANGELES — Throughout California people are struggling to stay in their homes. Developers, landlords and powerful Wall Street speculators have free reign over our affordable housing stock, as homes and apartments are transformed into high-priced market rate dwellings in working class communities. So-called “affordable rents” average between $800-1,000 plus per month, even for old worn-out buildings landlords refuse to repair. Such prices easily take some 40% to 50% of family incomes. Yet, landlords are demanding twice that amount, forcing families to look for cheaper housing, live in cars and RV’s or somehow exist on the streets.
The housing/homeless crisis was accelerated in 1995 when the California state legislature passed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Act, pushed by landlord lobbyists. This legislation prohibits cities from implementing rent control for any single-family home, condominium, or apartment built after 1995. And landlords can raise the rent to any amount following vacancy.
Costa-Hawkins places tremendous obstacles on working class communities. Landlords, especially corporate landlords, are increasing their efforts to convert “low-income housing” to market rate by more and more evictions from demands for higher rents. California residents are resisting this trend as families are made homeless, while the only solution offered by city and state representatives is more shelters!
Proposition 10, known as the Affordable Housing Act, would repeal the anti-rent-control Costa-Hawkins Act.
Since the passage of Costa-Hawkins, the state legislature has not passed a single significant housing bill! This in a state dominated by the Democratic Party. While the Democratic Party convention last February voted to endorse Proposition 10, its front-running candidate for governor, Gavin Newsom, opposes it! Newsom has received much of his campaign contributions (you guessed it) from landlord associations, corporate landlords and Wall Street financiers.
The passage of Proposition 10 will help reverse this trend significantly in California. We must of course not place all our hopes and efforts for achieving solutions for permanent housing and to end homelessness on this proposition, yet it is an important step forward toward working class unity and against landlord and corporate greed.