As the housing affordability and homelessness crises continue to slam the poor and middle- and working-class residents, the “3 Ps” must be a top priority for housing policymakers. Trickle-down housing solutions don’t help those who need it most, and they will never solve the housing affordability and homelessness emergencies in an urgent, direct way. The 3 Ps will.
For years, Housing Is A Human Right and its parent organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, have been pressing politicians to implement the 3 Ps: protect tenants; preserve existing affordable housing; and produce new affordable housing. In fact, AHF has already been executing the 3 Ps through its housing provider division, Healthy Housing Foundation, and its housing advocacy division, Housing Is A Human Right.
In 2018, AHF and Healthy Housing Foundation held the grand opening of the Madison Hotel, a repurposed, single-room occupancy hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Carrying out the production of new affordable housing, the Madison was the first of more than a dozen adaptive-reuse projects by AHF that quickly, and cost-effectively, created housing for low-income and homeless residents.
In only four years, AHF and HHF have produced more than 1,400 units of affordable housing – at a cost of only $102,000 per unit. The city of Los Angeles, in comparison, has spent nearly $600,000 per unit for affordable-housing projects. Cost matters. With a limited amount of government funding available, city agencies must keep costs down so they can build all the low-income and homeless housing that’s needed. Politicians would be wise to replicate AHF and HHF’s successful adaptive-reuse model.
Also in 2018, and later in 2020, AHF and Housing Is A Human Right led a broad coalition in California to implement another of the 3 Ps: protect tenants. Joined by social justice groups, housing justice organizations, and labor unions, AHF and HHR sought to protect tenants by ending statewide restrictions on rent control through Proposition 10, in 2018, and Proposition 21, in 2020. The initiatives would have allowed local governments in California to expand, or pass, new rent control policies. Big Real Estate, however, spent $175.4 million to defeat both measures.
But AHF and HHR continue to advocate for the protection of tenants through rent control and other policies. In 2021, AHF and HHR were major contributors to successful rent control ballot measures in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2022, the organizations were key contributors to a rent control initiative in Pasadena, California, which voters also approved. All three measures were high-profile campaigns that added momentum to a rising, nationwide rent control movement – and gave tenants the protections they needed.
Politicians should take note. The poor and middle- and working-class residents – all of whom are getting hit hardest by the housing affordability and homelessness crises – need urgent protection against wildly inflated rents charged by predatory landlords. Rent control will do that. Prominent studies released by USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley found that rent control swiftly stabilizes the housing affordability crisis and prevents people from falling into homelessness.
Elected officials must also preserve existing affordable housing, such as rent-controlled units, rather than demolish it to make way for luxury housing.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Housing Is A Human Right have always maintained that politicians can’t simply build their way out of the housing affordability crisis – with developers building almost exclusively luxury housing, it’s an agenda that doesn’t work. And elected leaders can’t make it worse by pushing failed trickle-down housing solutions that routinely destroy existing affordable housing and replace it with luxury housing.
In fact, trickle-down, luxury-housing policies, pushed by Big Real Estate and YIMBYs, also fuel gentrification and higher rents in middle- and working-class neighborhoods. Instead, politicians must preserve existing affordable housing.
For policymakers to seriously, and directly, address the housing affordability and homelessness crises, they must execute a multi-pronged strategy that helps the vulnerable people who need it first and foremost. Elected officials must carry out the 3 Ps: protect tenants; preserve existing affordable housing; and produce new affordable housing.