As Big Real Estate’s No on Prop 21 campaign spins and distorts, there’s one thing the real estate industry can’t change: the overwhelming support of trusted leaders and organizations for Proposition 21. From California’s housing justice movement to labor union icon Dolores Huerta, they’re urging Californians to vote early — and vote “yes” on Proposition 21.
Prop 21 is the statewide 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.
In the University of Southern California’s Rent Matters report, esteemed professor and co-author Manuel Pastor wrote: “The housing crisis requires a range of strategies, [and] moderate rent regulation is a useful tool to be nested in broader strategy. It has fewer damaging effects than are often imagined, it can address economic pain, and it can promote housing stability. And housing stability matters because it is associated with physical, social, and psychological well-being; higher educational achievement by the young; and benefits for people of color.”
The USC study found that rent limits don’t increase the rent of non-regulated units, don’t impact the construction of new housing, and help keep rents more affordable for everyone.
The need for stable, affordable housing has only taken on added importance because of the COVID-19 pandemic — people must have shelter to stay safe and healthy.
The urgency to pass Proposition 21 has prompted civic leaders, social justice organizations, and political groups to rally behind the measure. The diverse, impressive list is rock-solid proof that voting “yes” on Prop 21 is a no-brainer. It’s so long, in fact, that not all the names can be mentioned here.
What makes the list so powerful is that it’s made up of people and organizations who’ve been fighting for fairness and justice in California — and, in some cases, around the world — for years.
In comparison, No on Prop 21’s leading contributors are corporate landlords, such as Blackstone Group (led by billionaire CEO Stephen Schwarzman), Equity Residential (led by billionaire co-founder Sam Zell), and Essex Property Trust (founded by billionaire George Marcus). These billionaires have charged wildly inflated rents, have set the market price for rental apartments and single-family homes, and have therefore fueled the housing affordability crisis in California and across the nation.
While seniors and working-class families struggle to pay unfair, sky-high rents, Schwarzman, Zell, and Marcus have become mind-bogglingly rich — and live in palatial mansions in St. Tropez (Schwarzman), Malibu (Zell), and Los Altos Hills (Marcus). They don’t want anything to get in the way of raking in more billions — no matter who suffers. It’s why they’re shelling out millions to oppose Proposition 21, with Essex Property Trust ranking as the top contributor to No on 21.
But the following leaders and organizations are standing up to Big Real Estate. They understand that Proposition 21 gives Californians a special opportunity to rein in runaway greed with rent limits — and finally stabilize the housing affordability crisis.
Yes on 21 Prop Supporters:
- Labor movement and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta
- Former United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha
- Congresswoman Maxine Waters
- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
- California Nurses Association
- Sierra Club
- Reverend Al Sharpton
- California Alliance for Retired Americans
- Veteran Voices
- California Democratic Party
- American Civil Liberties Union Foundations
- Actor and activist Danny Glover
- California State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo
- California State Sen. Ben Allen
- California State Assemblymember David Chiu
- Social Security Works
- Consumer Watchdog
- L.A. Progressive
- Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
- Urban League Los Angeles
- San Francisco Tenants Union
- SEIU California
- Brown Beret National Organization
- Green Party of California
- Project Islamic Hope
- Pastor William Smart, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California
- United Auto Workers — Region 8
- Tenants Together
- ACCE Action
- National Organization of Black County Officials
Who are the top contributors to the No on Prop 21 campaign?
- Essex Property Trust: $15,013,300
- Equity Residential: $11,052,800
- AvalonBay Communities: $8,779,500
- Prometheus Real Estate Group: $3,134,600
- UDR: $2,525,042
- Apartment Investment and Management Company (AIMCO): $2,036,900
- Sequoia Equities: $1,821,260
- George M. Marcus and Affiliated Entities: $1,713,000
- Invitation Homes: $1,231,290
- General Investment and Development (GID): $1,146,000
Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, UDR, AIMCO, and Invitation Homes are publicly traded real estate investment trusts — also known as Wall Street landlords.
And Blackstone Group, one of the largest corporate landlords in the world and another REIT, has slickly contributed more than $7 million to the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC, which has delivered $7.2 million to No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. That’s right. Blackstone used a shell committee to funnel money to No on 21, attempting to fly under the public’s radar.
With middle- and working-class seniors, families, and workers facing the toughest of times, Yes on 21 supporters have a unified message to Californians: vote “yes” on Proposition 21.
Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.