In less than three months, California rent control advocates have gathered more than 500,000 voter signatures for the Rental Affordability Act, the statewide ballot measure that allows local communities to expand rent control. Voters are sending a strong message to state legislators that they want real rent control in California.
“Californians want urgent, long-term solutions for the housing affordability crisis,” says Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “The Rental Affordability Act allows real rent control in California, and protects middle- and working-class residents from predatory landlords, whose unscrupulous actions have fueled gentrification and the housing affordability crisis.”
Housing Is A Human Right and AIDS Healthcare Foundation are leading the effort to place the initiative on the November 2020 ballot. Since late June, rent control advocates have gathered 503,737 signatures—623,212 signatures are needed to qualify the initiative. Rent control advocates have already gathered enough signatures to force the California State Legislature to hold hearings on the Rental Affordability Act, which must be held no later than 131 days before the November 2020 election.
The California State Legislature recently adopted AB 1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The bill sets a precedent for state action against skyrocketing rents by providing a minimum standard of protection statewide. But the bill does not go far enough. State restrictions remain intact, preventing cities and counties—including Los Angeles and San Francisco—from enacting stronger rent control policies.
Advocates urge state legislators to act more urgently and come up with substantive legislation that truly protects tenants from predatory landlords, such as repealing or reforming the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, the state law that places onerous restrictions on local rent control policies.
“New York State legislators passed sweeping, statewide tenant protections this year,” says Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Yet California politicians continue to give tenants inadequate half measures. It’s insulting, and outrageous—the housing affordability and homeless crises continue to turn people’s lives upside down.”
The Rental Affordability Act allows local governments to expand their rent control policies to housing that is more than 15 years old; allows local governments to limit the rent increase for a new tenant who moves into a vacated unit; and exempts single-family homeowners of one or two homes from any rent control law.
In addition to the 503,737 signatures, a recent poll conducted by A/B Consulting and commissioned by AIDS Healthcare Foundation found that 75 percent of likely and extremely likely voters support the Rental Affordability Act.
California voters can visit an AIDS Healthcare Foundation location to give their signature for the Rental Affordability Act. Click here to find an AHF location near you.