Last week, California State Sen. Scott Wiener said he would refine his controversial, trickle-down housing bill, SB 50. Housing Is A Human Right, the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, demands that any changes to SB 50 include a simple mandate: a developer who utilizes SB 50 for a new project must build a majority of affordable-housing units.
“Without the majority affordable-housing mandate,” says Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya, “we will continue to oppose SB 50. As of now, the legislation doesn’t urgently, and directly, address our housing affordability crisis, which is devastating middle- and working-class Californians. At the moment, SB 50 is just another trickle-down, luxury-housing bill that makes billions for the real estate industry, but fuels gentrification and displacement.”
In addition, SB 50 cannot have loopholes that allow developers to buy their way out of building affordable housing units by paying special fees or using other evasive measures. Developers must construct affordable housing on-site.
Since December 2018, Housing Is A Human Right has vigorously opposed SB 50. It not only fails to urgently address California’s housing affordability crisis, but the bill will also worsen gentrification and displacement. Wiener, who aggressively pushes a trickle-down housing agenda, only offers temporary protections for “sensitive communities.” But once those protections are gone, middle- and working-class neighborhoods, especially those of color, will become prime targets for developers, who almost exclusively build luxury housing. It’s a fact that Zillow, the real estate site, pointed out in 2016.
Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell noted: “There’s a growing divide in the rental market right now. Very high demand at the low end of the market is being met with more supply at the high end, an imbalance that will only contribute to growing affordability concerns for all renters… Apartment construction at the low end needs to start ramping up, and soon, in order to see real improvement.”
Housing Is A Human Right believes the best way to immediately address California’s housing affordability crisis is through the “3 Ps”: protect tenants through such policies as rent control and just cause eviction; preserve existing affordable housing such as rent-controlled units; and produce truly affordable housing. SB 50 fails to undertake any of these key solutions in a substantive, long-term way.
Beyond SB 50, we urge California legislators, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, to make the “3 Ps” a top priority.
“For too long,” says Moya, “the public debate over how to solve California’s housing affordability crisis has centered on failed trickle-down housing policies that’s gotten us into this mess. Legislators, academics, and the press need to look at community-based solutions that will make a true difference for the middle- and working-class, and not just make outsized profits for the powerful real estate industry that contributes heavily to the campaigns of Scott Wiener and other politicians.”
Read Housing Is A Human Right’s special report, “Selling Out California: Scott Wiener’s Money Ties to Big Real Estate.”