Everyone should have a safe, healthy, affordable home.
But we are miles from this goal. California housing costs have spiraled out of control. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country due to the high cost of housing, with one-third of renter households paying over 50% of their income on rent. Meanwhile, California—the fifth largest economy on the planet—is home to more billionaires than any single country in the world except the United States and China. Californians are being forced to choose between a home and food, healthcare, childcare, and their jobs.
California’s economy is booming, but not for the majority.
Since 2005, over 2.5 million Californians living near the poverty line have left the state in search of an affordable home. The economic, racial and cultural fabric of our state is being rapidly eroded. The hard-working families that created our rich economy, that built our roads and cities, and that grow the food to feed California are being displaced at an alarming rate. Long-time residents of historically working-class neighborhoods and communities of color are being put at risk by:
• Corporate landlords consolidating ownership of the housing market, driving up the cost of both owning and renting a home. Wall Street landlords are competing with new homeowners by buying up single-family homes, setting rents that gouge residents, displacing seniors and children from their homes, and disrupting families from living near their community, schools and jobs;
• Think tanks that promote “Trickle down housing policies” which advocate only building market rate, luxury housing development, and discourage affordable housing creation;
• The state opening the door during the foreclosure crisis for real-estate speculator loopholes and handouts which incentivized cash-carrying corporate investors to buy up significant housing stock in predominately low income, communities of color, while denying local residents the opportunity to buy homes in their own communities;
• The state passing disastrous laws like Costa Hawkins and Ellis Act that prevent strong rent control and make it easy for Wall Street landlords to evict in order to rent or sell to people with higher incomes;
• The state refusing to invest in deeply affordable housing in all parts of California, which contributes to high poverty and puts tenants at risk of abuse by slumlords
What is the solution?
In the last few years, corporate landlords, mega real estate investors and Wall Street lobbyists have falsely claimed that the problem is merely the lack of market-rate supply, and the solution is to eliminate tenant protections and community input into development. The truth is that California is facing a severe shortage of housing for low-income families—a shortfall of 1.54 million rental homes for extremely low-income & very low-income renter households—not market-rate or luxury housing. For-profit developers have not—and will not—ever build the type of housing California families need and therefore our elected officials should not act like catering to their profits is the solution.
By stabilizing rents and closing the loopholes used by Wall Street speculators, mega-developers and corporate landlords, we can make more housing affordable.
• Fair, affordable rents;
• Strong eviction protections;
• Community control of land and housing;
• Rights of tenants to organize;
• Deeply affordable housing;
• An end to financial speculation on land and homes
Over the next several years we will continue to grow our numbers and power, and work to win:
• Stronger rent control and just cause eviction laws statewide, starting with the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act;
• The creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund at the state level, with permanent sources of funding;
• Laws that will require big corporations (particular developers, speculators and Wall Street) to pay their fair share towards making housing affordable;
• Stronger code enforcement so that all tenants live in housing that is safe and free from health hazards.
With a team of billionaire landlords emboldened at the White House now, there is far too much at stake for us to do anything short of bold action.