Yes on 21: Will Big Real Estate Spend $100 Million to Kill California’s Prop 21?

·5 min read

Law returns decision-making process on whether to enact rent control measures to local jurisdictions, communities, and local elected officials. It does not mandate or require rent control anywhere in California, but simply allows local communities to decide what’s best for them.

Over the last several months, the real estate industry has shelled out nearly $84 million in campaign cash to kill California’s Proposition 21, the November ballot initiative that will limit unfair rent increases and preserve affordable housing. The big question now is: will corporate landlords such as Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and Blackstone Group spend $100 million to try to stop the statewide initiative?

Prop 21 puts limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases, reins in corporate landlord greed, and prevents homelessness. Top experts at USC, UCLA, and UC Berkeley agree that sensible rent limits are key for stabilizing California’s housing affordability crisis. The need for stable, affordable housing has taken on added urgency because of the COVID-19 pandemic — people must have shelter to stay safe and healthy.

It’s why U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the California Democratic Party, and California’s housing justice movement have thrown their full support behind Prop 21.

But corporate landlords such as Blackstone Group, Essex Property Trust, and Equity Residential are banding together to oppose Prop 21, shelling out tens of millions in campaign contributions. These real estate companies are desperate to maintain a rigged and broken housing market that allows them to charge wildly inflated rents, making billions off the backs of California renters.

In the 2010s, according to Zillow, U.S. renters paid a staggering $4.5 trillion to landlords. California landlords were especially raking in gigantic profits.

Zillow found that in 2019, Los Angeles renters paid $39.2 BILLION to landlords. San Francisco renters shelled out $16.4 billion. San Diego renters forked over $10.3 billion. Riverside renters wrote checks totaling $7.4 billion. San Jose renters paid $6.5 billion. Sacramento renters delivered $4.8 billion to landlords. Massive amounts paid by seniors living on fixed incomes, working-class families, recent college students, and teachers and nurses.

No matter. The real estate industry has formed four No on Prop 21 committees, with Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association leading them all in fundraising, according to state filings. In only the past two weeks, the California Apartment Association-sponsored committee has grabbed an eye-popping $32.5 million in campaign cash to stop Prop 21. In total, Californians for Responsible Housing has raised a shocking $73,860,072.

With the other No on Prop 21 committees, Californians to Protect Affordable Housing has collected $9,245,691; Issues PAC of Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles – No on 21 has raised $600,735; and Californians for Affordable Housing sponsored by the California Rental Housing Association has raked in $192,951.

That’s a grand total of $83,911,495.

If Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association keeps up its recent fundraising pace, the No on Prop 21 campaign will collect an astounding $100 million by Election Day.

Tellingly, 15 corporate landlords have delivered 72 percent of all contributions to Californians for Responsible Housing, shelling out $53,791,244. Essex Property Trust, one of the largest apartment owners in the nation, is the leading contributor.

Top Contributors to Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association: ($1 million or more)

1. Essex Property Trust:

$15,013,300

2. Equity Residential:

$11,052,800

3. AvalonBay Communities:

$8,779,500

4. Prometheus Real Estate Group:

$3,134,600

5. UDR:

$2,525,042

6. Apartment Investment and Management Company:

$2,036,900

7. Sequoia Equities:

$1,821,260

8. George M. Marcus and Affiliated Entities:

$1,713,000

9. Invitation Homes:

$1,231,290

10. General Investment and Development (GID):

$1,146,000

11. R&V Management Corporation:

$1,100,000

12. Camden Development:

$1,082,000

13. Jackson Square Properties:

$1,061,600

14. Californians for Responsible Housing – General Purpose Committee:

$1,012,219

15. Richard Tod Spieker, including Spieker Companies:

$1,009,733

Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, UDR, Apartment Investment and Management Company, Invitation Homes, and Camden Development are publicly traded real estate investment trusts.

Equally telling is the hundreds of civic leaders, social justice groups, housing justice organizations, and labor unions who support Prop 21, including the Los Angeles and San Francisco tenant unions, SEIU California, California Nurses Association, California Alliance for Retired Americans, former United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha, and Black Lives Matter – LA.

In the fight over Prop 21, the line of battle is clear: Wall Street landlords versus longtime fighters for justice and fairness. California voters will have to decide who they want to stand with. For many, the choice is a no-brainer: YES on Proposition 21.

Read the full article: "Will Big Real Estate Spend $100 Million to Kill California’s Prop 21?"

Housing Is A Human Right (HHR) is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and the leading sponsor of Proposition 21. Proposition 21 is sponsored by Homeowners & Tenants United, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more, visit yeson21ca.org and housinghumanright.org.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201026005942/en/

Contacts

Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Dir., gedk@aidshealth.org (323) 791-5526 cell