California’s Housing Justice Movement Unites Behind Proposition 21
California’s housing justice movement is lining up in strong support of Proposition 21. Dozens of tenant rights organizations and housing justice groups have endorsed the statewide initiative, including ACCE Action, Housing Now! California, San Diego Tenants United, Housing Is A Human Right, and San Francisco Tenants Union. In addition, former United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha enthusiastically backs Prop 21.
“As someone who has traveled the world investigating the grave impact that the global housing affordability crisis has had on human rights,” Farha said in a statement, “I understand how important Prop 21 is to the health and well-being of every family and individual in California. Prop 21 will protect renters made vulnerable by the business practices of corporate landlords.”
Farha added, “Through staggering rent hikes and stagnant wages, these tenants are often one paycheck away from displacement or homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has the potential to be a death sentence. This is why I support Prop 21 and its measures to ensure that tenants in California can stay in their homes.”
Farha is a hero in the global housing justice movement for her tireless work to protect vulnerable populations around the world and taking on such corporate landlords as Blackstone Group. She’s now global director of The Shift, which advocates for the human right to housing.
Prop 21 is the November ballot measure that puts limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases, reins in corporate landlord greed, and prevents homelessness. Top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley agree that sensible rent limits are key for stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis. It’s why U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Democratic Party, the Los Angeles Times, among many others, have thrown their full support behind Proposition 21.
In stark contrast, the No on Prop 21 campaign is funded by the largest corporate landlords in the U.S.: Equity Residential, Essex Property Trust, and AvalonBay Communities have contributed $34.8 million to No on Prop 21: Californians for Responsible sponsored by the California Apartment Association, the lead No on 21 committee.
In total, the real estate industry has formed four No on 21 committees, raising an astounding $83.9 million to stop Prop 21. Additionally, Blackstone Group, billionaire landlord Geoffrey Palmer, Western National Group CEO Michael Hayde, and other real estate heavyweights have contributed $37.8 million to the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC to funnel millions to No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing.
The Yes on 21 campaign has filed a formal complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, charging that Californians to Protect Affordable Housing and Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association have violated the Political Reform Act by engaging in money laundering activities.
While California’s housing justice movement seeks to bring fairness and justice to the state through Prop 21, the real estate industry is only concerned about protecting its massive profits, which corporate landlords have generated by charging wildly inflated rents and fleecing California tenants. Proposition 21 aims to finally rein in corporate landlord greed.
Predictably, controversial No on 21 spokesman Steve Maviglio, a longtime mercenary for corporate America, has tried to hide the profit motive behind Big Real Estate’s opposition to Prop 21.
But Maviglio can’t hide the fact that Prop 21 is overwhelmingly supported by organizations and leaders that fight on the frontlines of California’s housing affordability crisis, which has been fueled by sky-high, unfair rents. In 2019 alone, according to Zillow, renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco paid $39.2 billion and $16.4 billion to landlords, respectively.
It’s no surprise that Tenants Together, members of the Berkeley and Santa Monica rent boards, Burbank Tenants’ Rights Committee, the Los Angeles Tenants Union, Oakland Tenants Union, East Palo Alto Council of Tenants, Eviction Defense Network, and numerous other housing justice organizations have endorsed Prop 21.
For these trusted groups, a “yes” vote on Proposition 21 is a no-brainer.
Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.