FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Which Way California: Destroyed Communities or More Affordable Housing?

Even the Wall Street Journal says California has a crises of housing:   high-price housing “hurts economic productivity, increasing poverty rates, lowering homeownership, increasing crowding, and lengthening commute time….” The S.F. Examiner reports that California has the highest rate of poverty in the nation if the cost of housing is “taken into account” and more than 2.5 million people in the state “have been forced to leave” as they look for an affordable home. The state legislature should be considering bills to end the Ellis Act and Costa-Hawkins Act—two state laws passed for real estate interests that have enabled much affordable housing to be destroyed.

In August, 2017, Governor Brown and the state legislature are considering Senate Bills 2, 3 and 3 aimed at increasing funding for low income housing projects and easing development restrictions. Senate Bill 2 would have a $75 fee on mortgage refinancing and other real estate transactions having the fees going for building low-income housing. Senate Bill 3 if passed puts a $3-billion bond for building low-income housing on the state ballot in 2018. Both bills, if passed, would finance 14,000 new homes/year leaving a deficit of 65,000 homes statewide still needed. Senate Bill 35 would limit cities’ and counties’ environmental and planning regulations of low-cost housing—speeding building and lowering cost of building new housing. Still California cannot build enough new housing from these three bills if passed as a way to end the housing crises. The state would still need another $10 billon/year it won’t have to construct affordable housing to help those suffering from too high rents.

The Ellis Act, passed by the state legislature in 1985 to please the powerful real estate lobby, has caused 22,132 apartments of affordable housing to be destroyed in Los Angeles alone since 2001 or 1478 rentals/year every year.  The real estate lobby got the state legislature to pass the Ellis Act to undermine rent control by letting landlords evict tenants if the landlords are destroying the building or changing to condos.  The Huffington Post says speculators have “abused the Ellis Ac by demolishing older buildings in order to build newer, expensive market-rate projects.” Also some landlords illegally evict tenants under the Ellis Act only to rent the same apartments at higher rent or transform apartments into Air B and B. The only way to end the housing crises is for the state legislature to repeal the Ellis Act protecting the affordable housing it has.

The Coalition for Economic Survival (C.E.S.) created an Anti-Eviction Mapping Project showing in Los Angeles from  April-June 2017 landlords have filed 638 Ellis Act eviction applications equivalent to losing 7 apartments/day or 212/month.  Last year 1,400 units were taken away from LA housing market, and at this year’s rate Ellis Act evictions in LA alone will mean loss of close to 2,000 affordable apartments under rent control. Larry Gross, executive director of C.E.S., said, “Ellis Act has ravaged our city’s affordable rent controlled housing stock. Unfortunately, we are also able to see how evictions are increasing and spreading across LA ….”

The average rent for a 2-bedroom in Los Angeles is $2169/month. To be affordable, a family must spend not more than 30% of their income on rent, so a family needs to earn $38/hour or $86,760/year to afford L.A.’s average rents. The median renter household income in the city is $36,036, so renters’ double and triple up to afford the rent.  One in three Californians play 50% or more of their income on rent, not having money for other necessities.

The Los Angeles City Council passed bill for small modifications in the Ellis Act, but small modifications will not change much. The quickest way to stop the affordable housing crises is for the state legislature to repeal the Ellis Ac since the repeal would stop encouraging developers from buying rent-controlled apartments and destroying them to build hugely expensive rental apartments or McMansions.

The state legislature should also repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which was  passed for real estate interests in 1995, that severely stops cities from passing “strict” rent control:  1) it prohibits cities’ from having rent control over single family dwellings and new construction; 2) it allows a rent increase on a subtenant when a tenant leaves; 3) it prohibits municipal “vacancy control” or stopping landlords from raising rents after a tenant leaves also called “strict” rent control. On February 17, 2017, California Assembly Members Chiu, Bonta and Bloom introduced AB 1506, a bill that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Both the Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act have let speculators destroy a great deal of rental housing.  At the same time as repealing the Ellis Act and the Costa Hawkins Act, California’s cities need stricter rent control laws and laws to keep rents from rising ever higher. A statewide coalition called Housing Now! California has formed that includes grass root groups, small landlords, labor unions, and community groups to repeal Costa Hawkins Act. Coalition for Economic Survival, Los Angeles’ leading tenants’ rights group, has asked for repeal of the Ellis Act. If California wants to stop  more people leaving the state, the economy going downhill, more severe overcrowding housing, and more communities destroyed, the state needs to repeal both Ellis Act and Costa Hawkins Act as well as spend more than $3 billion/year for affordable housing.

 

 

More articles by:

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail