California Voters to Decide on Rent Control Expansion in 2024

California Voters to Decide on Rent Control Expansion in 2024

A man walks along a street in a neighborhood of single-family homes in Los Angeles on July 30, 2021. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

7/31/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

A statewide proposition that would expand rent control across California qualified earlier this month for the November 2024 ballot, Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced on July 26.
This will be the third attempt to pass the statewide initiative called the Justice for Renters Act.
“We’re all very excited to mark today. Obviously, we know that rents are too high in California, and the time has come to lift the partial ban on rent control and ease the suffering of millions of renters facing skyrocketing rents,” Susie Shannon, policy director for Housing is a Human Right, said in a July 7 online press conference announcing the initiative’s qualification for the ballot.
Organizers collected more than 810,000 signatures, of which 601,000 were valid, enough to qualify the issue for the ballot on Nov. 5, 2024, according to Weber.
If passed by voters, the initiative would repeal the state’s 1995 Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act that prohibits rent control on single-family homes and apartments completed after Feb. 1, 1999. Repealing the act would throw the issue back to city and county governments to enact rent limits and allow local governments to mandate what a landlord can charge tenants for deposits.
The organization ran two unsuccessful campaigns in the past: Proposition 21 in 2020 and Proposition 10 in 2018. Both measures were defeated by nearly 60 percent of voters.
Several housing justice organizations support the initiative, including Veterans’ Voices, Housing is a Human Right, Pomona United for Stable Housing Coalition, and the California Nurses Association.
The measure’s financial backer is the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a nonprofit and housing advocate, according to state records.
Delores Huerta, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers union, spoke in favor of passing the new law at the online press conference.
“We have seen the unsheltered numbers have been growing higher and higher,” Ms. Huerta said. “We know we have some very heartless people on the other side. All of us are going to have to do the best we can. The rents are too damn high.”
Proponents say the initiative would make neighborhoods more affordable for low-income and middle-income renters.
An apartment building in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

An apartment building in Los Angeles on Oct. 20, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Currently, California’s Assembly Bill 1482, which took effect in 2020, provides statewide tenant protections, including limiting annual rent increases to 5 percent or inflation up to 10 percent, whichever is less.
“Current law prevents local government from expanding rent control, leaving renters at the mercy of corporate landlords and skyrocketing rents few people can afford,” the proponents said in a fact sheet on the Justice for Renters website.
The state has more than 17 million renters out of 39.5 million residents, including 80 percent who are low-income earners that pay more than 30 percent of their income toward rent, according to a state legislative analysis of AB 1482.
Less than 20 percent of renters live in rent-controlled units.
Californians pay some of the most expensive rents in the nation. The average in the state is $2,902 for all sizes and property types, according to a July 21 report by online real estate listing company Zillow.
As of May 8, more than 768,000 households are behind on rent in the state, with debts totaling more than $5 billion, putting about 721,000 children at risk of eviction, according to the National Equity Atlas, a collaborative data and analytics tool founded by Oakland-based PolicyLink and the University of Southern California Equity Research Institute.
The Legislature declined to pass a similar measure this year. Senate Bill 446, sponsored by state Sen. Aisha Wahab, a Democrat, failed on the Senate floor after 16 senators voted against it. Wahab’s office told The Epoch Times that she might consider bringing the bill back next year.
The bill received strong opposition from property owners’ groups, including the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the largest statewide rental housing trade organization in the United States.
The apartment association is also organizing “strong opposition” against the Justice for Renters Act, according to a statement posted on July 27 on its website.
“The proposed initiative gives full control over rent control regulations to local governments, and if this proposed initiative passes, the result will be disastrous,” the association said in the statement.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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