L.A. Focus | Yes on Prop. 21: Stabilizing and Keeping Black Families Together Amid California’s Housing Affordability and Homelessness Crisis

Yes on 21 Team News

Authors:

Pastor Kelvin Sauls, Former Senior Pastor, Holman United Methodist Church and LAHSA Commissioner

Rabbi Joel Simonds, Founder & Executive Director, Jewish Justice Center

Pastor William Smart, President/CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Southern California (SCLC-SC)

Pastor Eddie Anderson, McCarty Memorial Christian Church

Pastor Najuma Smith-Pollard, Word of Encouragement Church

Reverend Dr. James Thomas, Pastor, Living Word Community Church

Pastor Tembekila Crystal Coleman-Smart, Executive Director, Women of SCLC-SC

Pastor Cue Jn-Marie, Church without Walls – Skid Row, Downtown Los Angeles

 “…If your neighbor becomes homeless and cannot maintain themselves, you shall provide support and shelter…”                                                                                                 (Leviticus 25:35-36)  

When rents go up, tents go up! Housing affordability is one of drivers that is putting 17 million Californians at risk for eviction. Uncontrolled increases in rent has become a pipeline to homelessness. Black families are disproportionately affected by this driver. Black communities are disproportionately impacted by this pipeline. It’s no secret there is a housing affordability crisis in California. This is a MORAL CRISIS!

Black people are not only being pushed out of our major cities into the suburbs and exurbs of California, but often out of the state in general to places with more affordable housing, yet less social cohesion. Many were pushed out strategically by gentrification and intentionally by escalating costs, be it mortgage, rent or other unaffordable costs of living. As California’s population grew from 29 million to 39 million over the past 30 years, the Black population in California dwindled to just 5.8% of the general population. These are intentional systemic strategies with intended consequences. This is DE FACTO HOUSING APARTHEID!! 

Of those African Americans who remain in the Golden State, two-thirds (65.6%) are now renters. At the same time, homeownership rates for Black Americans nationwide have been falling. The power to do something about combatting California’s runaway rents and rising housing costs is in our hands this November. Learn about and vote ‘Yes!’ on Proposition 21, the Rental Affordability Act, this election. 

Proposition 21 is a ballot initiative that will limit unfair rent increases and preserve affordable housing, especially in historically Black and minority communities that are particularly vulnerable to displacement due to high rents and stagnant wages. The law returns the decision-making process on whether to allow or enact rent control measures to local jurisdictions, communities, and local elected officials.  It will not mandate or require rent control anywhere in California, but simply allows local communities to decide what’s best for them. Proposition 21 modernizes rent control by allowing local governments to limit rent increases on buildings older than 15 years, protecting millions of renters while incentivizing new housing construction. It would allow local communities to:

•    Expand rent control to more buildings while exempting newly constructed buildings.

•    Exempt Single-Family homeowners who own up to two homes.

•    Allow limits on rent increases when a new renter moves in.

  LOCAL COMMUNITY CONTROL is essential!!

Proposition. 21 is endorsed by California Congresswomen Karen BassMaxine Waters, and Barbara Lee, the California Democratic Party, actor/activist Danny Glover, Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, Los Angeles City Council Member Herb Wesson, SEIU California, ACLU of Southern California, the Los Angeles Urban League,  and  KJLH Radio Additionally, Prop, 21 is backed by firefighters and nurses—It earned the endorsement of the Los Angeles City Stentorians, an organization of African American firefighters of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. Also endorsing: the California Nurses Association (CNA), representing over 100,000 nurses who have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. UNITY and SOLIDARITY abound!  

For Black people in California, these facts remain unchanged: systemic racism and displacement has caused a disproportionate number of Black people to become homeless. In L.A. County, where 8% of the overall population is Black, Black people represent 34% of those experiencing homelessness. And eviction rates in Black communities are far higher than in white communities. The twin crisis of housing affordability and homelessness deeply and disproportionately affect Black families and communities across the state. OUR TIME IS NOW!!

Proposition 21 is one way to help to stabilize families and preserve the social and economic fabric of the Golden State. With Proposition 21, rents can go up reasonably without resulting in tents going up! The stabilization of rents will prevent the destabilization of Black families. We can interrupt this pipeline to homelessness before it disrupts more Black families. We can stop the driver called unfair rent increase in its tracks before it destabilizes more Black communities. VOTING YES on Proposition 21 by mail by October 20th or in-person by November 3rd and help keep families—particularly Black families—TOGETHER IN THEIR HOMES!

“If you pour out yourself for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness…”                                                                                                (Isaiah 58:10)      

# # #