On July 30, African-American leaders came together with Los Angeles Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson to announce their united support for Proposition 10. The ballot measure will allow communities to urgently address the state’s housing-affordability crisis by limiting excessive rents. They urged Californians to vote Yes on 10 in November.
“We say ‘Yes’ very enthusiastically to Proposition 10,” Harris-Dawson said at a press conference outside the historic Vision Theater in South Los Angeles’ Leimert Park Village. “Prop. 10 takes us a long way towards fixing [the housing affordability] problem, and clearing a path so our community can grow and prosper.”
Damien Goodmon, an African-American and Yes on 10 campaign director, pointed out that in addition to himself, Christina Livingston, who is also African-American and the state director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, is an official proponent of the initiative.
“Black leaders have been calling for the repeal of Costa-Hawkins for years,” said Goodmon, “because we know that rent control is essential to ensuring that we still have space in our changing cities.”
Every major African-American housing justice group in California, as well as housing justice groups that are led by African Americans, has endorsed Proposition 10.
The long list includes: Institute of the Black World 21st Century (led by Ron Daniels), Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives (led by Larry Aubry), African-American Cultural Center (led by Dr. Maulana Karenga), Brotherhood Crusade (led by Charisse Bremond-Weaver), California Calls (led by Anthony Thigpenn), Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Dellums Institute for Social Justice, People of Color Sustainable Housing Network, PICO California (co-led by Rev. Ben McBride), PolicyLink (led by Angela Glover), SCOPE (led by Gloria Walton), Ward AME Church Pastor John Cager, and Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases.
Key African-American leaders include Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Kelvin Sauls, and Professor Melina Abdullah as endorsers.
Numerous African-American leaders who back Proposition 10 and were at the press conference: retired California Assemblymember Mike Davis, retired Los Angeles Councilmember Robert Farrell, Los Angeles Urban League President Michael Lawson, Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Greater Southern California President Rev. William D. Smart Jr., National Action Network-Los Angeles’ Rev. Jonathan Moseley, AFSCME 3090 Past President Alice Goff, Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance Executive Board Member Jackie Ryan, Black Women for Wellness Executive Director Janette Robinson-Flint, Church Without Walls Pastor Cue Jn-Marie, Fannie Lou Hamer Institute Director Akili, Holman United Methodist Church Rev. Oliver Bouie, Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment, LA CAN Executive Director Pete White, Los Angeles Worker Center’s Malcolm Harris, and Poor People’s Campaign & McCarty Memorial Church Pastor Eddie Anderson.
Speakers noted that the African-American communities throughout the state have been particularly impacted by California’s housing-affordability crisis, which has destabilized cultural, business, social, and political centers and uprooted African-American families.
In Los Angeles, there’s been a decrease of 100,000 African Americans since the 1990s while the median rent for a two-bedroom in South L.A. has shot up 50 percent in the past five years. In Oakland, the African-American population has dropped nearly one-third while 61 percent of African Americans are rent burdened.
“Whatever gain we make at the bargaining table,” said AFSCME 3090 Past President Alice Goff, “are negated by the increases for rent.”
She added, “Rent control is critical for timely addressing the needs within all our communities.”
The pockets of the African-American community that remain in cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco are largely due to rent control and mandated affordable housing. African-American leaders point out that rent control slows gentrification and helps low-income families to stay in their longtime neighborhoods.
Kim Yergan, a senior-citizen homeowner who had to battle banks in order to keep her home in LA’s Crenshaw District, explained, “The high rental prices and high housing costs are surely intended to displace me… The housing costs take up 50 percent of my fixed income.”
The human cost of rising rents and sky-high housing costs — such as increasing homelessness and poverty — is an obvious moral issue in African-American communities throughout the state.
Rev. Eddie Anderson, the California co-chair of the nationwide Poor People’s Campaign, said, “Poverty is immoral, and we must call it out wherever we see it. Dramatically raising the rents in this neighborhood is immoral. So today we stand to say, ‘Yes on 10’ — that we stabilize the rents. For the rent is too damn high, and our people can’t take it anymore.”