Housing Is A Human Right’s Advocacy Highlights of 2021
In 2021, Housing Is A Human Right not only fought to stop bad policies, but it also pushed for community-based solutions. It’s not easy work. We’re battling a powerful triumvirate made up of the real estate industry, certain politicians, and YIMBYs, all of whom work together to push a trickle-down, luxury-housing agenda that devastates middle- and working-class communities. But we’ll never back down, and we’ll always fight for what’s right. Here are our advocacy highlights of the past year:
- Rolled out a comprehensive platform to address the housing affordability and homelessness crises: In January 2021, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, our parent organization, and Housing Is A Human Right rolled out a detailed community-based plan to solve the housing affordability and homelessness crises. Based on the “3 Ps,” we urged politicians to stop pursuing a trickle-down housing agenda and to push forward policies that urgently help those suffering most from sky-high rents, the tactics of predatory landlords, and homelessness.
- Pushed for more inclusionary housing and the adaptive reuse of existing buildings to produce more affordable and homeless housing: As part of our comprehensive platform, we continually advocated for the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, such as hotels and motels, so more affordable and homeless housing can be built quickly and cost-effectively. We also pushed hard for policies that include more affordable units in new luxury-housing development, known as “inclusionary housing.” In 2022, we’ll continue this work, and our sister organization, Healthy Housing Foundation, has already produced nearly 1,200 units for low-income and unhoused residents by renovating hotels and motels in the L.A. area.
- Fought the criminalization of homelessness: In Los Angeles and throughout California, we constantly pushed back against policies that criminalized homelessness. Although politicians know better, they continue to enact sweeps and anti-homelessness ordinances, but these policies do nothing to address the root causes of homelessness. Put simply, people need housing, not handcuffs.
- Sought to stop pro-gentrification state bills SB 9 and SB 10: For much of 2021, Housing Is A Human Right worked tirelessly to stop California bills SB 9 and SB 10. These pieces of legislation were giveaways to the real estate industry and promoted a trickle-down housing agenda, which fuels gentrification and displacement in middle- and working-class communities. Unfortunately, the bills passed and were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, but our advocacy forced changes in SB 9 and SB 10 that blunted some of the harmful aspects of the bills.
- Advocated for changes to the flawed Hollywood Community Plan: In Los Angeles, a community plan is a guide for new development in a neighborhood. In 2021, L.A. City Hall sought to update the Hollywood Community Plan, but it was filled with pro-developer giveaways that will worsen gentrification and displacement. L.A. City Hall also planned to use the Hollywood Community Plan as a template for other community plans in Los Angeles. We pressured politicians to make changes to the flawed community plan. So much so, in fact, that elected officials put off approving it. In 2022, we’ll continue to demand that politicians do the right thing for middle- and working-class residents.
- Hosted community hearing to address the housing affordability and homelessness crises: In June 2021, we held an important community hearing on homelessness, housing, and hunger at the Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles (above picture). The special event gave activists, unhoused individuals, and community leaders a much-needed platform to talk directly to state and local elected officials, who attended the hearing. The presenters urged politicians to move more quickly to address the housing affordability and homelessness crises, to think outside the box for solutions, to work more closely with grassroots groups, and to rein in the predatory tactics of the real estate industry.
- Major contributor to winning rent control ballot measures in St. Paul and Minneapolis: In November 2021, activists in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, successfully passed rent control ballot measures, defeating the real estate industry. It was a huge victory with national implications, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation, our parent organization, was a major contributor to both campaigns. After AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Housing Is A Human Right led the charge in 2018 and 2020 to pass pro-rent control ballot measures in California, we’re now seeing a rent control movement rise up throughout the nation. It’s more than needed: rent control is the only way we can rein in the predatory tactics of corporate landlords.
- Continued to expose the real estate industry through our award-winning advocacy journalism: Throughout 2021, through our award-winning advocacy journalism, we continued to expose the real estate industry, YIMBYs, and certain politicians who push harmful policies that fuel sky-high rents, more evictions and homelessness, and more gentrification and displacement. We’re particularly proud of our special report about the California Apartment Association, which, for the first time, exposed the CAA’s statewide strategy to buy off city, county, and state politicians through campaign contributions. Published in November, it’s a must-read.
Lastly, we thank everyone who answered our calls to action in 2021. Without your support, our advocacy work would not be as potent and successful. Please continue the fight with us in 2022.