California’s housing affordability and homelessness crises need a muscular response from local and state legislators. With today’s release of Governor Gavin Newsom’s state budget, Housing Is A Human Right is encouraged that the governor is placing the housing affordability crisis at the top of his agenda.
Median rents in California are higher than any other state in the country. Among all 50 states, California has the fourth highest increase in rents. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Californian earning minimum wage would have to work 92 hours per week in order to afford to rent an average one-bedroom apartment.
Even though California represents only 12 percent of the total U.S. population, the state is home to 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. In Los Angeles County, more than 1,200 homeless people died in the streets between 2017 and 2018.
California’s housing affordability and homeless crises are devastating lives and communities. Activists Derek Steele of Inglewood, Mike Van Gorder of Glendale, and Georgina Serrano of Los Angeles have seen the real-life damage firsthand — and fight unfair evictions, corporate landlord greed, and displacement each day.
An urgent response is needed, but with solutions that benefit the people, not just corporate landlords and developers — whose business practices have fueled our housing affordability crisis.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposals mostly address the production of housing supply at all income levels, and he has so far remained silent on the need for tenant protections, including rent control. We believe that the housing affordability crisis requires far more than a simple “build, build, build” plan.
Local and state legislators must focus on the production of truly affordable housing for the middle- and working-class; the preservation of existing affordable-housing stock by protecting rent-controlled housing; and the protection of our most vulnerable communities from displacement through stronger rent control and just cause protections. If not, we will continue to fall short in addressing the conditions that created the housing affordability and homeless crises.
In fact, top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC-Berkeley agree that rent control is key to stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis.
Housing Is A Human Right will study the governor’s proposals in more detail over the coming days. We applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambition. We expect the governor and state legislators to work with the grassroots housing and homeless movements to address the challenges ahead.
Contact: Rene Moya, Director of Housing Is A Human Right — [email protected]