Housing Package Makes Strides Toward Building Affordable Housing But Fails to Protect Tenants from Displacement

Friday, September 29, 2017

Today, the “housing package” passed by the state Legislature was signed by Governor Brown. Two bills - SB 2 and SB 3 - will raise desperately needed funds for affordable housing. AB 1505, known as the “Palmer Fix” and previously vetoed by Governor Brown, will at long last restore the authority of local government to require a percentage of affordable housing units in new rental housing developments. Together, these bills will help get back some of the affordable housing funding that California has lost thanks to drastic cuts under the Brown Administration.

After years of Sacramento’s inaction to address the housing crisis, Tenants Together praises the passage of these critical bills. Tenants Together alongside affordable housing advocates have pushed for these reforms for years, and we are pleased to see these efforts come to fruition.

Unfortunately, another bill that is part of the package, SB 35, will cut out community voices and further fuel displacement in many parts of the state. SB 35 will apply to communities like Oakland that are quickly developing and gentrifying, but have yet to “meet” their market-rate production goals. Under SB 35, market rate (often luxury) housing will be streamlined fueling gentrification and displacement, particularly in communities of color.

Notably absent from the package are tenant protections to stop rampant displacement, preserve existing affordable housing and keep tenants in their homes. AB 1506 (Bloom) to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act -- a top priority of tenant organizations -- was stalled in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and faces an uncertain fate. “This package fails to include meaningful tenant protections or affordable housing preservation. We must protect the right of black and brown families to stay in their communities,” said Deepa Varma of the San Francisco Tenants Union.

“The revenue bills and the Palmer fix are essential first steps, but it is not nearly enough,” said Dean Preston of Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights. “We urge Governor Brown in his final year in office to ramp up funding for affordable housing and to address the displacement crisis, not by further enriching developers, but by repealing the disastrous Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act so that cities can protect their residents from displacement with strong local rent control.”

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