Los Angeles Blade, the LGBTQ Paper of Record in Southern California, Endorses Prop 21

Karen Ocamb News

The Los Angeles Blade, considered the LGBTQ publication of record in Southern California, has endorsed Proposition 21. During such a crucial election, Troy Masters, publisher of the Los Angeles Blade, has broken his policy of remaining neutral to endorse in certain elections this November.

“The current generation of LGBTQ seniors are at particular risk of COVID-19 while also being unable to age in place. They are survivors of the most intense years of the AIDS crisis, many of whom gave up financial opportunity in order to engage in the fight against AIDS. They survived that epidemic but were hobbled by homophobia, alienation and isolation during what should have been the most financially productive years of their lives. They’re counting on their hometowns to protect them,” Masters says.

“In this economic downturn, these seniors are particularly vulnerable to the whims of politics and municipalities with weak rent control and housing protections. They are our readers. So are LGBT youth, one of the largest demographics of homeless people, who also deserve shelter,” he says.

“The Los Angeles Blade is breaking its policy of remaining neutral in electoral races because Proposition 21 helps address the severe consequences of the COVID-19 economic collapse. Kicking the can down the road TO FORESTALL evictions is not a strategy. But without Prop 21, landlords could jack up rents just when the back rent bill comes due, with interest. Prop 21 seeks to avert a humanitarian crisis,” Masters says.

Proposition 21 is the November ballot measure that puts limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases. It protects people against corporate landlord greed and keeps them in their homes. It’s supported by trusted civil leaders and organizations, such as U.S. Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, Congressmembers Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee and Karen Bass, the California Democratic Party, and the Los Angeles Times, among numerous others.

In addition to the Los Angeles Blade, LGBTQ endorsers include: State Commissioner Ricardo Lara, LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin, West Hollywood Councilmembers John Heilman and John Duran and Commissioners John Erickson and Sepi Shyne, LAUSD board member Jackie Goldberg, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Eleana Popp/Eviction Defense Network, Impulse Group, ACT UP/LA, Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club, the Bay Area Reporter, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, Stonewall Democratic Club, and San Diego Democrats for Equality.

Here’s the Los Angeles Blade endorsement in full:

A Center volunteer assists with an application for a subsidized apartment at the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing on the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s campus. (Photo courtesy LGBT Center)

Vote Proposition 21, A Firewall For Renters Against COVID-19 Economy

September 15, 2020 at 3:57 pm PDT | by Troy Masters

LOS ANGELES – In case you haven’t heard, our national and local economies are in the worst shape since the Great Depression. Jobs have been lost. Unemployment benefits are beginning to expire for millions of people who managed to get them. Tax receipts are down. Our industries are in shambles. Government is forced to cut services as public assistance programs have tapped out.

Los Angeles is experiencing its worst ever epidemic of homelessness, an emergency that will be inflamed by a looming spike in evictions.

That spike in evictions will most definitely result in a cascade of social problems, too many to name here — and the impact on the already-strained LGBTQ community safety net is unimaginable.

There are no easy answers. But shockingly California Gov. Gavin Newsom is siding with the big real estate developers, even though a recent audit by out gay Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin found construction costs for each new affordable housing unit inflated up to $531,000 per unit, and in the case of two projects, $750,000 per unit. That’s very expensive affordable housing when rehabbing an old motel might work for now, as Galperin suggests.

But there certainly are political fixes that can help right the ship and change laws that currently offer little protection for those who are housing vulnerable.

Enter Proposition 21, an initiative that would amend Costa-Hawkins and allow California’s cities to adopt better rent protections.

Costa-Hawkins is a law that prohibits California cities that did not have rent control laws in place from applying rent control on apartments built after 1995. For Los Angeles, which had existing controls before Costa-Hawkins, the law applies to apartments built after 1978.

Proposition 21 proposes to change the law to cover apartments older than 15 years, increasing the inventory of regulated units. Some say the change would spur the construction of new developments for a city that, at least prior to the pandemic, was expected to grow exponentially.

Proposition 21 would also allow implementation of rent controls on some single-family homes and condos, but exempts mom and pop and other small landlords who own up to two properties.

Proposition 21 would end “vacancy decontrol,” preventing landlords from automatically moving rent controlled apartments to market rates when a rent controlled tenant moves out.

Proposition 21 seeks to put the brakes on costly rent increases.

The Los Angeles Blade agrees that renters need more protections in California’s expensive housing market and the proposition would afford local governments the ability to expand more of those protections.

Manhattan, with its dozens of empty billionaire towers, is a prime example of what happens when a city favors the creation of housing to attract only the 1 percent of the world’s population with only “poor door” regard for affordability. Los Angeles likes to think of itself as a similarly booming real estate market, but so much of it is aspirational fantasy. Aspirational folk are often checked.

They are the very people who are first to leave when times get tough, as LA and SF are beginning to see.

But who doesn’t leave? Look at West Hollywood for the answer, a city where a majority of residents are renters, a city where most residents are more than 55 year old who even before the pandemic were struggling to age in place.

Proposition 21 was not written to specifically address the emerging economic and housing challenges of the pandemic, but the timing is kismet. It is needed now more than ever.

More than 40 percent of homeless people are Black families. More than 40 percent of homeless youth in Los Angeles are LGBTQ.

Cities like Los Angeles are on the front lines of a man-made disaster of greed and the pandemic has pulled the rug out from under the illusion that ever higher price points and valuations are sustainable. Our cities require flexible policies that control inflation and allow for management that can avert social upheaval.

This does not prohibit investment.

It makes Los Angeles and California more sustainable and more likely to bounce back from an economic crisis that will get worse before it can get better. In the meantime, people first must be the heart of every policy where people’s shelter is concerned.

Landlords deserve tax breaks, rights, and recourse. But they do not deserve primacy over people in our legal and social contract.

We firmly endorse Proposition 21.