Tuesday’s election was a victory for affordable housing at the state and local ballot.
With state Propositions 1 and 2, cities across California will see new funding for affordable housing. Prop C, once implemented, will finally create a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing in San Francisco. It contributes $150 million annually for permanent supportive housing, equivalent to over 600 new units per year. The passing of Prop C demonstrates what we can do when community organizations craft a measure with a broad set of stakeholders and develop a campaign outside of partisan politics.
Prop 10, despite its statewide loss in the face of a $75 million opposition campaign, can still claim a successful win in San Francisco with 52 percent of voters in the City voting yes on themeasure. This win indicates clear support for tenant protection policies locally. It also pushes the affordable housing movement forward statewide by putting tenant protections at the center of the California housing debate, opening the way for legislative reform to Costa-Hawkins.
These victories send a powerful message to the state’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, and to state legislators. It also sends a message to political leaders in San Francisco, a city with record number of evictions, widespread displacement of families, and a seemingly intractable affordable housing imbalance.
Only 24 percent of new housing produced in San Francisco over the last ten years has been affordable, according the SF Planning Department’s latest Housing Balance report. And when the loss of rent-controlled units is factored in, the balance drops to a dismal 18 percent. In some neighborhoods, the loss of affordable homes outpaces the production of new housing.
Last Tuesday’s election emphasizes voters’ expectations for San Francisco policymakers to push for creative and comprehensive solutions to the affordability crisis. Voters showed a sophisticated understanding of the interconnectedness of anti-displacement and the expansion of affordable housing supply, and rejected the simplistic rhetoric of market fundamentalism and deregulation solutions.
Wider Bay Area Wins, Too!
Affordable housing also won big in the Bay Area.
Berkeley’s $135 million housing bond, Measure O, passed with 76 percent of the vote.
In Napa County, voters appear to have passed dedicated housing funding measures D, E, F and S in Calistoga, St. Helena, Napa and Yountville, respectively.
The success of the measures across the region shows that voters understand the housing crisis is about the supply of real affordable housing for everyday low- and middle-income people.
Legislators from every Bay Area city are increasingly compelled to look at comprehensive policies, both through public subsidies and by regulating market-rate development to ensure inclusive mixed-income communities.
Building Momentum for an Affordable Housing Policy Agenda
These and other victories around the region show how the narrative has changed and sets the course for what is to come: restoration of Redevelopment financing for affordable housing in 2019 and a Prop 13 reform ballot measure in 2020, which could open the door to increasing the City’s annual Housing Trust Fund allocation. There is also active talk about reforms to the Ellis
Act and Costa-Hawkins, and anti rent-gouging legislation as a check against unreasonable rent increases.
Prop 10’s impact also cannot be understated — the statewide coalition coming out of this campaign has significantly built momentum for the tenants movement. The endorsements of the measure by the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, the ACLU, California Teachers Union, Housing California and all the affordable housing associations and many others, shows the widespread support for strengthening protections for renters against displacement and real estate speculation. And despite Prop 10’s loss, a poll that came out shortly before Tuesday’s election showed a majority of Californians support rent control.
In the face of the opposition’s misinformation campaign, the organizing momentum and the change in public narrative were strong wins for the affordable housing movement.
Tuesday we had some big wins but the affordable housing and tenants’ rights movement cannot stop here. Housing is the issue of these times — Producing new affordable housing, Preserving existing housing, and Protecting residents in their housing. The fight is far from over, and, as always, the day after Election Day is the day to roll up our sleeves and get back to work.
Maya Chupkov is Communications Manager of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, representing 25 affordable housing developers and tenant and community organizations.