Read Our Initiative

Affordable Housing Act

The People of the State of California do hereby ordain as follows:

Section 1. Title

This Act shall be known and may be cited as “Affordable Housing Act.”

What It Means

As Section 1 says, Proposition 10 is the Affordable Housing Act. Passing it empowers local communities to expand rent control to limit skyrocketing rent increases and address predatory housing practices. That’s it. It’s a simple, limited measure that doesn’t try to do too much. It won’t solve all housing problems, but it will provide your local government an important set of tools to take action.

You are already hearing a lot of arguments against Prop 10. Those arguments are designed to confuse you into voting NO. They will say things like “it is badly written” and “it doesn’t solve all housing problems.” That’s why we want you to read it for yourself. You will see it’s pretty clear and simple. But because some of it is written in legal terms, we are providing some clear explanations as to what the different sections mean.

Section 2. Findings and Declarations

The People of the State of California hereby find and declare all of the following:

a) Rents for housing have skyrocketed in recent years. Median rents are higher in California than any other state in the country, and among all 50 states, California has the 4th highest increase in rents.

b) Research by Apartment List indicates that the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in California is $1,410, an increase of 4.5% in just one year. A one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles costs $1,350 per month. In San Francisco, it costs $2,450. In San Diego, the cost is $1,560.

c) The federal government has concluded that rent is not affordable if renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. The State of California has found that more than half of California renter households (3 million) pay more than 30% and one-third of renter households (over 1.5 million) pay more than 50% of their income toward rent.

d) According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Californian earning minimum wage would have to work 92 hours per week in order to afford to rent an average one-bedroom apartment.

e) More Californians (5.8 million households) are renting than ever before, because overall home ownership rates in California have fallen to their lowest level since the 1940s, according to the state. One quarter of older millennials (25-34 years of age) still live with their parents. (U.S. Census Bureau)

f) Statewide labor unions, such as California Nurses Association, Service Employees International Union and the California Teachers Association, have made affordable housing a priority for their members. For example, teachers in California’s urban centers are paying 40% to 70% of their salaries on housing and many are being forced to live an hour or more from their jobs in order to afford a home.

g) Three times as many Californians are living in overcrowded apartments as compared to the U.S. as a whole. (U.S. Census Bureau)

h) Even though the state represents only 12% of the total U.S. population, California is home to 22% of the nation’s homeless population. (California Department of Housing and Community Development)

i) Homelessness is a major public health issue. People who are homeless are 3 to 4 times more likely to die prematurely and are more likely to have a communicable disease, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

j) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that vulnerable populations face lower life expectancy, higher cancer rates and more birth defects when their homes are displaced due to the gentrification of their neighborhoods.

k) The increased cost of housing is worsening traffic congestion and harming the environment by forcing commuters to live farther away from their places of employment and increasing commute times. A report by the Pew Charitable Trust noted that the number of Californians who commute more than 90 minutes each way increased by 40% between 2010 and 2015; the increase is a direct result of the dearth of affordable housing near jobs.

l) A major factor in California’s housing crisis is a 20-year-old law known as the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Costa-Hawkins gives permission to landlords of residential apartments and houses to raise rents as much as they want in buildings built after 1995; despite local laws that would otherwise prohibit such increases, landlords in Los Angeles can raise rents as much as they want on buildings built after 1978 and in San Francisco, on buildings built after 1979.

m) Costa-Hawkins also allows a landlord to raise the rent in any building built before 1995 to the market value when it becomes vacant, and lets the landlord decide what market value is.

n) Costa-Hawkins prevents cities from implementing laws that keep rents affordable for their residents.

What It Means

Section 2 describes the housing affordability crisis and why California so desperately needs Prop 10. Bottom line? Everyone should have a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home, but for many the rent is too damn high.

Home prices and rents are higher in California than any other state except Hawaii. Rent hikes in the state are double the national average – even worse in Los Angeles, where apartments cost 100 percent more than the national average. Out of control housing costs, driven by corporate landlords and big real estate, have left many Californians living paycheck to paycheck, with the American dream of buying a home no longer within reach. Nearly 70 percent of households don’t make enough to afford an average priced home, which runs $538,640. The politicians in Sacramento created this crisis and now they are failing to address it.

Skyrocketing rents are forcing families out of their homes and out of the state – creating labor shortages that hurt local businesses.

49 percent of Californians are struggling to make ends meet and housing is the biggest reason why. Nearly one in three families pay over half of their income on housing and employers can’t afford to pay workers what they need to live locally, leading families to live in overcrowded, substandard condition apartments or face eviction. Housing insecurity hurts performance on the job with many having to move their families further away and even leave the state altogether. Families being priced out of their communities at an alarming rate don’t need more housing, but more affordable housing.

Low-income and middle-income Californians have been hit the hardest.

Since lower-income people and people of color are far more likely to face rent hikes, gentrification is accelerating across California. Living paycheck to paycheck means it’s difficult for working people, like nurses, teachers, service professionals and grocery clerks, to afford housing and still have enough money for groceries, gas and childcare. Prop 10 will enable more communities to implement similar measures to curb predatory housing practices and keep lower-income tenants in their homes. That’s why a broad coalition of nurses, teachers, seniors, labor unions and housing advocates support Prop 10.

Homelessness among retirees, veterans, and others on fixed incomes is on the rise.

More than three-quarters of California’s low-income seniors are financially burdened by rent, according to UCLA.When the rent goes up, so do the number of homeless people. The Los Angeles Times reports that homelessness has surged 22 percent among seniors in LA alone, in part, because every 5 percent increase in rent drives 2,000 more Los Angeles residents into homelessness. Those facing eviction suffer enormous stress, which can lead to depression, heart attacks and other health problems.

Further, out of 40,000 homeless veterans in the US, 11,000 of them live in California–and we have seen a 17-percent rise in homeless veterans since 2016. Prop 10 is the only solution we have to keep our seniors and veterans living healthy lives in their homes and off the streets.

Since Sacramento told communities that they couldn’t rein in skyrocketing rents, California’s housing crisis has spun out of control.

For decades, corporate landlords and big real estate interests have driven rents higher and higher, driving many residents further away from their jobs, and often out of California altogether. Between 2000 and 2016, rent in California has gone up 85 percent while median household income increased by only 43 percent. Worse, some are driven out of stable housing altogether and find themselves and their families living on the streets and homeless. With this new state law, big real estate interests and landlords got their way, essentially rigging the system to benefit them and leaving local communities powerless to take action to protect their residents.

Section 3. Purposes and Intent

The People of the State of California hereby declare the following purposes and intent in enacting this Act:

a) To restore authority to California’s cities and counties to develop and implement local policies that ensure renters are able to find and afford decent housing in their jurisdictions.

b) To improve the quality of life for millions of California renters and reduce the number of Californians who face critical housing challenges and homelessness.

c) To repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

What It Means

Prop 10 does not mandate rent control or force any community to adopt anything they don’t want or need.

Instead, Prop 10 takes a very limited approach to addressing one aspect of our housing affordability crisis. By repealing the failed and outdated Costa-Hawkins law, it simply removes the constraints that law imposed on local governments to limit skyrocketing rents and curb predatory housing practices. By passing Prop 10, local governments will be empowered to take urgent action to address the housing crisis on their terms, should their community need such action.

Section 4. The Affordable Housing Act shall be codified by repealing the following sections of the Civil Code:

Sections 1954.50, 1954.51, 1954.52 and 1954.53 of Chapter 2.7 of Title 5 of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code are repealed.

What It Means

Section 4 is the technical legal language that repeals the Costa-Hawkins provisions that prevent local communities from deciding rent policies for themselves.

Section 5. The Affordable Housing Act shall be further codified by adding the following section to the Civil Code: Section 1954.54.

(a) A city, county, or city and county shall have the authority to adopt a local charter provision, ordinance or regulation that governs a landlord’s right to establish and increase rental rates on a dwelling or housing unit.

(b) In accordance with California law, a landlord’s right to a fair rate of return on a property shall not be abridged by a city, county, or city and county.

What It Means

If you only read one section of Prop 10, it should be Section 5, the most important section.

(a): In Section 5, Prop 10 simply empowers local governments to take urgent action to address the housing crisis on their terms, should such action be needed. According to an important new study by UC Berkeley, rent control is a critical tool to addressing the housing affordability crisis with the level of urgency we need. While long term strategies are also necessary, Prop 10 is needed now.

(b): For homeowners and rental property owners, it’s important for you to know that Prop 10 protects your right to a fair financial return.

A landlord’s right to a fair rate of return is already guaranteed by the State Constitution, and Prop 10 reaffirms this guarantee, which means landlords are always able to raise rent enough to make a profit each year and to cover all of their repairs and maintenance. Yearly rent hikes are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which helps explain why rent-controlled landlords do nearly as well as market rate landlords in Los Angeles and better than market rate landlords in the rest of the country.

Section 6. Liberal Construction

This Act shall be broadly construed to accomplish its purposes.

What It Means

Section 6 gives governments enough power to enforce the intent of the law, so if predatory landlords try to find loopholes, this will limit their ability to do so.

Section 7. Amendment and Repeal

Pursuant to Article II, Section 10, Subdivision (c), of the California Constitution, the Legislature may amend this Act to further its purposes by a statute passed in each house by roll call vote entered in the Journal, two-thirds of the membership concurring, signed by the Governor. No statute restricting or eliminating the powers that have been restored by this Act to a city, county, or city and county to establish residential rental rates shall become effective unless approved by a majority of the electorate.

What It Means

Section 7 is another very important section because it limits the power of politicians in Sacramento to undermine the will of the people. What this means is if your local government passes new policies to limit rent increases and curb predatory housing practices, the Legislature cannot overturn those laws without a majority vote of the people.

Section 8. Severability

If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

What It Means

Section 8 gives the people another protection. What this section means, essentially, is that if a court decides that part of Prop 10 is illegal, the rest of Prop 10 won’t be affected.

Section 9. Conflicting Measures

In the event that this Act and any other measure addressing the authority of local government agencies to establish residential rental rates shall appear on the same statewide election ballot, the provision of the other measure or measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this Act. In the event that this Act receives a greater number of affirmative votes than another measure deemed to be in conflict with it, the provisions of this Act shall prevail in their entirety, and the other measure or measures shall be null and void.

What It Means

Section 9 makes it clear that local governments have the right to establish new policies to help address the housing affordability crisis. If any other statewide ballot measures pass that try to take that authority away, Prop 10 would block it.

Section 10. Legal Defense

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the State, a government agency, or any of its officials fail to defend the constitutionality of this Act, following its approval by the voters, the proponents shall have the authority to intervene in any court action challenging the constitutionality of this Act for the purpose of defending its constitutionality, whether in state or federal court, and whether such action is in any trial court, on appeal, or on discretionary review by the Supreme Court of California or the Supreme Court of the United States. The reasonable fees and costs of defending the action shall be a charge on funds appropriated to the California Department of Justice, which shall be satisfied promptly. Section 11. Effective Date Except as otherwise provided herein, this Act shall become effective the day after its approval by the voters.

What It Means

Section 10 provides another important protection to the voters to have their will and intent in passing Prop 10 upheld. If the state refuses to protect the constitutionality of Prop 10, the people would allow the proponents of Prop 10 to protect it in court. This does not allow the proponents to sue landlords for rental increases or cities for not adopting rent control.

Section 11. Effective Date

Except as otherwise provided herein, this Act shall become effective the day after its approval by the voters.

What It Means

Voters: if you want to take on our housing crisis and take action to bring down rent and stop predatory housing practices, you have the power to do so. By voting YES on Prop 10, you can give your local community the power to address housing issues starting on November 7th, the day after the election. That means by voting YES, we can immediately empower our cities or towns to act urgently. If you are sick and tired of being dragged down by high rent, Section 11 may be your favorite section because it means you could see relief right away.