Get the Facts
Get the Facts.
By The Numbers
There are 17 million renters in California
1 in 3
1 out of 3 CA renters spend 50% or more of their income on rent
A minimum-wage employee would have to work 92 hours every week to afford the average one-bedroom apartment
Rent increases in CA are 2X the national average
Skyrocketing Rents vs Stagnant Wages
- According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), wages have not kept pace with rents. Renters in L.A. County need to earn $41.96 per hour — 2.8 times the City of L.A. minimum wage — to afford the average monthly asking rent of $2,182. In fact, across California, it takes 116 hours of minimum wage work to afford a modest apartment in the state.
- Over Half of all renters statewide — more than 3 million households — spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, meeting the federal government’s definition of “rent-burdened.” Nearly ⅓ spend even more, spending more than half of their income on rent. It’s not just renters: 16 percent of SoCal homeowners are also cost-burdened.
Big Real Estate
- Corporate landlords and Big Real Estate have a long history of prioritizing profit over people. For years, the real estate industry has falsely claimed that addressing the housing affordability crisis is a matter of supply and demand. The housing affordability crisis is not only a California issue. It is a global phenomenon exacerbated by increased speculation in the housing market and sluggish, long-term wage growth. And as more investor money is infused in housing markets, rents rise, and people face further housing insecurity.
- Corporations and Wall Street speculators aren’t just making life difficult for renters. By competing for the same housing stock as homeowners and small landlords, corporate landlords make it increasingly difficult for people to own their own homes or invest in property.
Real Estate Speculation
- Real estate speculation involves buying property with the hopes of reselling it at a higher price, with a very risky loan or higher interest rate.
- Speculation is intended to make a lot of profit in a short amount of time. Mortgages and rental property ownership is based on a 30-year commitment to that community by using a standard loan. Corporate landlords don’t care about committing to our communities; they want to use our neighborhoods to make a lot of risky money very fast.
Systematic Racism + Community Displacement
- Urban communities, often created as a result of the racists housing practices, are now facing a cruel irony. Generations after their ancestors fled their neighborhoods as people of color moved in, white folks are moving back into those communities of color— and it comes at a price.
- When there’s no vacancy control, landlords can raise the rents on vacant units as high as they want to— and intimidate or harass current tenants until they move.
- Gentrification leads to housing insecurity for many of our most vulnerable communities
- The unfortunate truth is that real estate billionaires and special interest groups give so much money to politicians in order to buy their votes — their votes against rent control, their votes against tenant protections, and their votes against anything that threaten their bottom line profits.
- This means that many politicians who receive real estate dollars are limited in the action they can take. That’s why we’ve had to take rent control to the ballot, directly to voters.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Prop 21?
Prop 21 is a November 2020 state ballot initiative that will limit rent increases and preserve affordable housing to keep CA families in their homes. Prop 21 would allow local communities to enact or expand rent control policies that limit how much rental prices can increase each year. It does not require any city or county to adopt rent control, but it gives them the choice to do so.
Why do we need Prop 21?
California is home to the nation’s worst housing affordability and homelessness crises. One in three renters pays more than half their income in rent. Without rent control, corporate and predatory landlords will continue their rent gouging, pushing people out of their homes and onto the streets. Prop 21 would give millions of seniors, families, and working Californians stability and peace of mind.
I’m a homeowner, how will Prop 21 affect me?
Prop 21 will have no direct effect on you if you are not a landlord or a renter. Our ballot measure explicitly exempts homeowners who own no more than two single-family homes. And Prop 21 will guarantee landlords a fair profit.
Who supports Prop 21?
Prop 21 is supported by policy makers such as Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Maxine Waters; legendary activist Dolores Huerta; and advocacy and grassroots organizations like Courage California, Our Revolution, the Los Angeles Urban League, In the Meantime, The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, Democratic Socialists of America - Los Angeles, Faith in Action, Inquilinos Unidos, Los Angeles Center for Community Law & Action, National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles (NLG LA), and many more.
Who is against Prop 21?
Prop 21 and efforts to protect California renters have been aggressively targeted and opposed by the California Apartments Association, the state's most powerful landlord lobbying group; publicly-traded real estate investment trusts such as Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, Blackstone Group; Wall Street interests; the California Association of Realtors; and people like Tom Bannon (CAA), Sam Zell (Equity Residentials), Thomas J. Coates (Jackson Square Properties), John Eudy (Essex Properties Trust), Barry Altshuler (Equity Residential), Jackie Safier (Prometheus Real Estate Group), Russell Flynn (Bay Area Landlord), Tim Naughton (AvalonBay Communities), Tom Toomey (UDR) and notorious eviction landlord Dennis Block.
Will this raise taxes?
How does rent control work?
What if my city already has rent control?
Don’t landlords have a right to make a profit?
Prop 21 guarantees a landlord’s right to a fair profit. That means that any city or county that adopts rent control will not infringe on a landlord’s right to a return on their investment.
I’m confused about the 15% thing, does that mean my rent will go up 15% every year?
No. Vacancy control has no impact on how much rent is charged while a tenant is living in the unit. It guides how much the cost of an apartment can be increased before the next tenant moves in. The rent for the new tenant will only be increased based on the allowable rent increase for that year. Landlords could add 15% if the previous tenant lived there for more than three years to upgrade the unit.
Right now, landlords can raise the cost of rent on any apartment as much as they like after a tenant moves out—sometimes doubling or even tripling the cost of rent on a unit without putting much investment in the unit. This leads to unsustainably high rents for all of us and encourages evictions of longer-term renters, especially seniors. Prop 21 will help take the target off of the backs of long-time renters.
Why doesn’t Prop 21 institute a rent cap directly?
Prop 21 does not preclude the adoption of statewide rent regulations. (In fact, we encourage our elected officials to do more to protect renters and homeowners alike!) It affords local communities the power to set limits on rent increases depending on conditions locally, as they see fit. Right now, both the state and local communities have very limited powers to do so. Prop 21 will change that.
Didn’t California already pass rent control?
No. Assembly Bill 1482 went into effect at the beginning of 2020 to address only the most excessive rent increases, While AB 1482 is a significant first step, renters need further protection. AB 1482 limits rent increases to 10% each year, which is still unacceptably high if your income doesn’t go up 10% each year.
In fact, research shows that AB 1482 only directly impacts 7% of rent increases in the state, meaning the vast majority of renters will still absorb rent increases that far outstrip the cost of living.
In fact, AB 1482 only protects a limited number of tenants, and it expires in ten years. Prop 21 would never expire, and it would cover mobile home renters as well as other types of housing.
Will this ballot measure prevent me from evicting a problem tenant?
Experts agree - rent control works.
- Rent control improves affordability in rent-regulated units
- Most studies have found that rents did not rise and in some cases were even lowered in areas adjacent to rent-regulated neighborhood
- In the San Francisco Bay Area, renters collectively spend $4.4 billion beyond what they can afford on rent, money that could otherwise be used for other things
- Rent control and just-cause evictions policies have protected social and economic diversity in Berkeley and Santa Monica
- Data from Berkeley and Santa Monica show that rent control continues to protect vulnerable renters and hold down rent prices
- A comprehensive 1998 report by Berkeley’s Planning and Development Department noted that rent control did not negatively impact new apartment construction; the report showed that building permits hit their highest levels since 1971 in 1989—nine years after the passage of rent control.
- Rent control directly increases stability and affordability. Tenants living in rent-controlled units move less frequently and are less likely to be forced to move
- Tenants in rent controlled units also pay substantially less than tenants in non-regulated units: $3,240 less per year in Los Angeles, $5,460 in New York City, and $18,000 in high-cost Manhattan
- Rent control is the only policy tool that can immediately provide relief to renters facing unaffordable rent increases. Because rent control covers private rental housing where the vast majority of renters live, it outperforms all other affordable housing tools in terms of scale of impact.
- The stability created by rent control disproportionately benefits low-income households, people of color, seniors, and families with children, who are most at risk of displacement and forced moves.
- Based off a historical study of rent and income in Los Angeles, this study recommends expanding rent control and vacancy control to protect Los Angeles tenants
- Rents in Los Angeles are increasing at a time when real income is falling: the 2009-11 median income was actually 2% lower than it was in 1970, median rents over that same period increased 85% (both figures adjusted for inflation).
- The impact of rising rents hits the lowest earners (those in the bottom quintile) especially hard. 54% of this group was severely rent-burdened (paying more than half of their income for rent), but by 2009-2011 that figure had risen to nearly 78%.
- Los Angeles has lost a significant number of rent controlled units over the last few decades: while in 1982 almost 100% of apartments were rent controlled, today only about 80% fall within that category. When single-family home rentals are included, the share of units covered by RSO drops to 73%.
- In the City of Berkeley, rents have risen 50% in non-controlled units and yet only 10% of that increased rent is being reinvested in the community through building renovations and increased tax payments
- The City of Berkeley’s Rent Board’s 2010 economic study found that overall rents had increased by slightly more than $100 million annually, over and above the increases necessary to provide an inflation adjustment to cover increased costs and maintain profitability.
- For the City of Berkeley, rent control policies have been an incredibly cost effective way to protect renters; the city’s rent board has an annual budget of approximately $4 million whereas providing comparable benefits through vouchers would cost $20 million annually. New construction to build social housing would require a capital investment of $220 million.
- When the housing market is as dysfunctional as it is in many parts of California, tenants are effectively subsidizing landlords with rent payments above what a fully competitive market would allow landlords to charge.
- Rising rents have pushed many residents into homelessness. California now has the largest number of people experiencing homelessness among all 50 states, and research shows a clear link between rising rents and increased homelessness.
- Stabilizing rents would have broader benefits to the state’s economy, environment, and public services—from improved traffic conditions and reduced traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions, to increased spending by tenants in their local economy.
- Seniors, Latinos, African Americans, low-wage workers, and families with children face the most severe burdens from the housing crisis. Rapidly increasing rents are displacing residents to areas with fewer quality jobs, well-performing schools, and other resources—reproducing racial segregation, particularly in suburban areas far from urban jobs centers.