Californians have been getting slammed by unfair, sky-high rents for years. Politicians have done little to solve it. The California Apartment Association fights any kind of renter protection. And corporate landlords use their money and political influence to kill anything that stops them from charging tenants whatever they want. In the meantime, the rest of us are getting buried by debt and rising living costs. What to do?
A crucial action you can take is to support Proposition 21, the November ballot measure, also known as the Rental Affordability Act, that puts sensible limits on excessive rent increases. You’ll not only help yourself, but millions of Californians — including your friends, family, and neighbors — who need stable, affordable housing. That’s especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Housing equals good health.
But you need to do more than vote “yes” for Proposition 21. The Yes on 21 movement — it’s a movement, not simply a campaign — doesn’t have $80 million at its disposal. The No on Prop 21 campaign, spearheaded by the California Apartment Association led by CEO Tom Bannon and funded by such corporate landlords as Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities, can raise that kind of cash, but not us. We’re a grassroots movement, with support from organizations such as the Eviction Defense Network, San Francisco Tenants Union, and ACCE Action.
So vote “yes” for Prop 21, and vote as early as possible so your ballot is counted, but also pitch in. We have a golden opportunity to create real change. It’s exciting! Politicians can’t get in the way. Big Real Estate can’t influence the politicians. The ball is in our court. Here are 10 suggestions for what you can do:
- Follow Yes on Prop 21 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When you see our posts, “like” them, but also share. That’s super important. We need to spread the Yes on Prop 21 message far and wide. Maybe you don’t like to share political content on social media. We understand, but if there was ever a time to stand up and be counted, now is that time. Share, share, share.
- Get creative. Use social media in creative ways to spread the word about Yes on Prop 21. You don’t have to take cues from us. Take it upon yourself to create a short “Yes on 21” video with your phone. Or hang a “Yes on 21” sign on your dog and share that picture on social media. Or come up with a “Yes on 21” dance and post that. Get creative, then act.
- Volunteer for the Yes on 21 movement. We love volunteers, and we can always use them. Contact us and we’ll get back to you.
- Write letters to the editor and send them to your local newspaper. Keep it brief and explain why your fellow Californians must vote “yes” on Prop 21. Share a personal story about why this means so much to you.
- Make a “Yes on 21” poster and put that up in the window of your apartment or home or somewhere safe in your car. Again, spread the word.
- Host a virtual party and educate your family and friends about Proposition 21. Explain to them that they must vote “yes” on Prop 21, no matter what the No on 21 campaign says. The No on 21 campaign will try to distort, scare, and confuse. So people must hold steady, and vote “yes” on Prop 21.
- Endorse Proposition 21. Again, it’s time to take a stand. Big Real Estate and the California Apartment Association have been getting their way for far too long. Their runaway greed needs to be reined in. The rents they are charging are unfair, too high, and unsustainable — and they are driving people into homelessness and sleeping in their cars. Enough is enough!
- If you belong to an organization, write an op-ed for your local paper, explaining why you support Prop 21. The No on 21 campaign does this all the time. We need to counter it — and massively.
- Subscribe to the Yes on 21 newsletter to keep updated on the latest Prop 21 news, information, and events. Knowledge is power, as they say.
- Lastly, if you can, contribute to the Yes on 21 movement. If you don’t have the money, don’t worry about it. But if you can even spare a dollar, that will help. It really will.
The Yes on 21 movement is taking on the most powerful and deep-pocketed forces in the nation. The real estate industry is a monster, with tens of millions in its warchest. We need to match that with people power. We can win, but we need your help.
Remember, there’s a lot on the line. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people were barely making ends meet because of obscenely high rents. Now, with massive unemployment and lost wages, Californians need even more protection to keep their homes. Prop 21 will provide that, and our movement won’t stop on Election Day. We’ll keep pushing for more renter protections and other policies that put people over profit. But Prop 21 is a key step in creating real, substantive change. Please, join our movement.
Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is an award-winning reporter and advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.