Yes on 21 CA Prop 21 California No-Brainer

Vote Early. Vote Yes on Prop 21. It’s a No-Brainer!

Patrick Range McDonald News

For fair-minded Californians who want to urgently address the state’s ongoing housing affordability crisis and protect their families, friends, and neighbors as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the decision is truly simple: vote YES on Proposition 21.

Prop 21 is the statewide ballot measure that puts limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases, reins in corporate landlord greed, and prevents homelessness. It’s why U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Democratic Party, former United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha, and California’s housing justice movement have thrown their full support behind Prop 21.

That list of supporters — and there are dozens of them — is important. They are trusted leaders, activists, and organizations that have long fought on the frontlines for fairness and justice. They have seen, firsthand, the human wreckage that’s taken place because of Big Real Estate’s runaway greed, which has gone unchecked for years and slammed Californians with unfair, skyrocketing rents.

Take Leilani Farha, a hero in the global housing justice movement.

“As someone who has traveled the world investigating the grave impact that the global housing affordability crisis has had on human rights,” says Farha, explaining her support for Prop 21, “I understand how important Prop 21 is to the health and well-being of every family and individual in California. Prop 21 will protect renters made vulnerable by the business practices of corporate landlords.”

Farha adds, “Through staggering rent hikes and stagnant wages, these tenants are often one paycheck away from displacement or homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this has the potential to be a death sentence. This is why I support Prop 21 and its measures to ensure that tenants in California can stay in their homes.”

Or take Zenei Cortez, a registered nurse and president of the California Nurses Association.

“One of the most profound impacts on public health is housing insecurity,” says Cortez, explaining why the nurses’ union backs Prop 21. “Millions of Californians who are rent-burdened are forced to make painful choices between paying the rent or paying for prescription drugs and medical services. They are one paycheck away from living on the streets where the public health challenges are even more severe. Adverse physical and mental health problems, including lung diseases, bronchitis, pneumonia, malnutrition, skin infections, and the threat of COVID-19 infection given the increased difficulty of social distancing, become greater threats. The unhoused, especially women and children, also face increased trauma from physical assault and rape.”

She adds: “CNA is proud to endorse Proposition 21. Evictions and homelessness disproportionately affect Black and brown people and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this problem by creating more layoffs, which leads to financial and housing instability. Communities of color simply cannot make the rent. BIPOC communities are more likely because of various structural racist policies to have a low wage job that cannot be performed at home. Prop 21 is critical to ensuring that these communities are provided the rent affordability that they and their families so desperately deserve.”

Or take U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who explains that Prop 21 is crucial to rein in Big Real Estate’s greed: “Rent control is an appropriate tool to tell landlords that they cannot jack up their rents to any rate that they want.”

Top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley back him up.    

In their reports, leading housing, urban planning, and economic experts studied the immediate need and value of implementing rent limits. The independent analyses found that sensible limits on the amount a landlord can raise the rent will bring urgent relief to millions of Californians who are struggling to pay outsized rents and make ends meet.

In University of Southern California’s Rent Matters report, esteemed professor and co-author Manuel Pastor wrote: “The housing crisis requires a range of strategies, [and] moderate rent regulation is a useful tool to be nested in broader strategy. It has fewer damaging effects than are often imagined, it can address economic pain, and it can promote housing stability. And housing stability matters because it is associated with physical, social, and psychological well-being; higher educational achievement by the young; and benefits for people of color.”

The USC study found that rent limits don’t increase the rent of non-regulated units, don’t impact the construction of new housing, and help keep rents more affordable for everyone.

Now consider who’s trying to kill Proposition 21:

That’s only naming a few. There’s an endless parade of corporate landlords who oppose Prop 21 — and who got extraordinarily rich over the past decade by charging sky-high, unfair rents.

Between 2010 and 2019, U.S. renters paid a staggering $4.5 trillion to landlords, according to Zillow. In 2019 alone, Los Angeles renters handed over $39.2 billion to landlords. San Franciscans shelled out $16.4 billion. San Diego tenants paid $10.3 billion.

“The total amount of money spent on rent nationwide over the past 10 years is higher than the GDP of Germany (a shade less than $4 trillion in 2018), the world’s fourth-largest national economy,” Zillow reported. “Total rent paid in 2019 alone is higher than the entire 2018 GDP of Thailand ($505 billion) and just short of Argentina’s ($518 billion).”

That’s seniors on fixed incomes, working-class families, nurses, teachers, and recent college graduates who are forced to shell out that massive cash to landlords — just so they can keep a roof over their heads.

Because of its gigantic campaign war chest, No on Prop 21 has rolled out deceitful TV ads to confuse and scare voters. (No on Prop 21 has also engaged in money laundering to stop Prop 21.) But it’s a sign of how desperate corporate landlords are to keep a broken and rigged status quo that’s made them TRILLIONS — and off the backs of middle- and working-class renters.

By looking at who supports Prop 21 and who opposes the measure, it really is a simple decision. In fact, it’s a no-brainer. Vote early — and vote YES on Proposition 21.

Patrick Range McDonald is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.