We are outraged, but not surprised, that this past Thursday, January 11, 2018, members of the Housing and Community Development Committee of our State Assembly failed to move forward Assembly Bill 1506, which would repeal Costa-Hawkins and remove strict restrictions to enacting rent control across California. We thank Assemblymembers Bonta (D-Alameda), Chiu (D-San Francisco) and Stone (D-Scotts Valley) for their support of repealing Costa-Hawkins. However, two Democrats, Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and Jim Wood (D-Humboldt), refused to vote for the measure, joining two Republicans in killing the bill’s chances for the year. We will not soon forget these decisions to put the profits of property owners over the livelihoods of tenants.
Fortunately, there is a clear next step for those of us fighting for housing justice: working to pass the Affordable Housing Act, a November 2018 statewide ballot measure that would repeal Costa-Hawkins. Rather than depending on ineffective legislators that are beholden to the real estate industry, voters across California will get to decide to repeal Costa-Hawkins.
Please read DSA-LA's endorsement of repealing Costa-Hawkins here.
Members of DSA-LA recently voted, with 99% approval, to formally endorse the Affordable Housing Act. It is painfully clear that our elected representatives, including many Democrats, are unable to urgently enact the necessary changes to address our growing housing affordability and homelessness crisis. With the majority of Angelenos and almost half of Californians being renters, we will use people power to ensure the passage of this crucial ballot measure.
Repealing Costa-Hawkins, which would merely allow cities to decide for themselves whether or not to implement stronger rent control, is necessary to fix a housing system that leaves over 118,000 Californians homeless and more than 1.5 million households spending over half their income on rent. In addition to building homes explicitly for low-income residents, we must preserve the affordability of our existing housing stock. Rent control is an extremely simple and effective way to keep people in their homes and keep communities struggling against gentrification intact, and the benefits accrue disproportionately to low-income residents and people of color. We must additionally recognize that Costa-Hawkins poses a unique threat to those with disabilities because newer units, which are more likely to be accessible, cannot be covered by rent control, leaving disabled people with fewer options for affordable housing.
The for-profit housing market is good at only one thing: transferring wealth from low-income renters to rich property owners and investors. We must destroy this exploitative institution and guarantee safety and quality housing to all, regardless of income. Housing is a human right, not a commodity for those who can afford it! Repeal of Costa-Hawkins is but a first step in achieving housing justice.
In this battle against capitalist exploitation, we fight in solidarity with grassroots movements all over the state, including DSA chapters across California, the Los Angeles Tenants Union, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Union de Vecinos, Causa Justa, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), and many others. While the so-called experts debate the merits and ask us to slow down, the message coming from the people most affected by the housing crisis is loud and clear: give us strong rent control now! To do so, we must repeal Costa-Hawkins
Please join the Housing and Homelessness Committee in working to pass the Affordable Housing Act by emailing hnh(at)dsa-la.org.