California’s housing crisis is more dire than ever, but state lawmakers have continued to kick the can down the road.
Significant amendments to ambitious tenant protection policies have hamstrung legislative efforts to temper California’s acute housing crisis. Even in early committee drafts, the California legislature has either watered down or dismissed bills that would establish modest rent caps, reduce evictions, and provide emergency rent subsidies for renters at risk of homelessness. Similarly, efforts to jump-start housing production have stalled in Sacramento, despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s bold campaign promise to build 3.5 million new homes. Critics across the political spectrum are blaming California’s highest-ranking Democrats, Governor Newsom and Senate President pro tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), for a failure to lead on the issue.
…“We’re bailing out a sinking ship without plugging in the hole,” said Alexander Harnden, Policy Advocate for the Western Center for Law and Poverty. “Tenant protections are necessary to make sure that as we’re building housing, we’re also keeping people stably housed to make sure we’re not adding to the problem.” Harnden explained that the Western Center was supportive of efforts to expand affordable housing, and was not opposed to more aggressive production efforts, but the main focus of their coalition in this legislative session was on tenant protections.
“Generally, we’re seeing that tenant protections are one of the hardest things to get through the legislative process,” Harnden said. “If we don’t address that, we are just going to get the same increases we’ve seen in homelessness.”