Proposition 10 forced a robust public debate about access to affordable housing throughout California, galvanizing policymakers and advocates who are profoundly frustrated at the insidious acceleration of homelessness caused by persistent, excessive increases in rental rates. Despite losing statewide, the ballot measure won key victories in regions that are among the hardest hit by California’s housing affordability crisis, which is fueling homeless, displacement, and gentrification crises.
Proposition 10 would have repealed statewide restrictions on rent control, giving back to cities and towns their right to determine the appropriate housing policy for their citizens.
According to the California Secretary of State, Proposition 10 won 40.5 percent of the statewide vote, with nearly 4.9 million Californians voting “yes” on the initiative. It’s a major milestone considering that multi-billion-dollar real estate investment trusts (REITs) such as Blackstone Group, Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, and other corporate landlords and real estate companies shelled out more than $77 million in campaign contributions to oppose Proposition 10. The opposition outspent proponents by more than three to one.
Importantly, Proposition 10 won in cities and counties where residents experience and appreciate rent control: the city and county of San Francisco (53 percent); Alameda County (51.8 percent), where Oakland and Berkeley are located; and the City of Los Angeles, the state’s largest city and the second largest city in the nation, with 55 percent.
The vote in Los Angeles County was a virtual draw, according to finalized election results by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. In addition, voters in rent control cities such as Santa Monica and West Hollywood strongly supported Proposition 10.
Other cities in L.A. County that backed the initiative include Alhambra, Bell, Bell Gardens, Burbank, Compton, Cudahy, Culver City, Gardena, Glendale, Hawthorne, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Lawndale, Maywood, Paramount, Pasadena, South Gate, South Pasadena, and Vernon.
“Millions of Californians are homeless and at risk of homelessness because they cannot afford wildly escalating rents imposed by many greedy landlords,” said Michael Weinstein, president and co-founder of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the citizen proponents of Proposition 10. “In a shameless act of self-perpetuation, landlords spent millions of dollars sucked out of the wallets of their tenants to keep those tenants under their rental thumb. While the initiative didn’t win statewide, it cannot be lost on policymakers and landlords that broad swaths of the citizenry were not fooled by deceitful TV ads and campaign tricks that corporate landlords bought.”
In a testament to the urgent and critical challenges facing renters, rarely has such a broad, statewide coalition been gathered in support of a ballot measure. More than 525 housing and tenants rights organizations, labor unions, progressive political groups, elected and civic leaders, and faith-based institutions endorsed Proposition 10.
Those leaders and groups include the California Democratic Party, the California Teachers Association, the California Nurses Association, the California Labor Federation, United Farm Workers, the League of Women Voters, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, PICO California, the National Urban League, Public Advocates, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Eviction Defense Network, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, and activist/actor Danny Glover.
San Francisco, Alameda County, and Los Angeles are all experiencing among the worst housing affordability, displacement, and homeless crises in the nation. Voters in those regions deeply understand the devastation that unfair, excessive rents are causing, and threw their support behind Proposition 10.
Weinstein added, “This battle has just begun. The humanitarian crisis is far too urgent to give up because of one loss. We are confident that the Yes on 10 campaign’s enormous array of supporters is fully committed to continuing the battle to secure relief for renters. We will not allow one second to pass before resuming an aggressive effort to find that relief.”
AHF has started discussions among legislators to seek solutions that could be supported by the California Legislature – and is prepared to return to the ballot if that is the only recourse.