Housing: Justice, Affordability, and Prop 10
This November, California has the opportunity to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act with voting in favor of Prop 10 “Local Rent Control Initiative.” This is an important moment for those of us who rent. Costa-Hawkins was a blow to renters- it prevented cities and counties to enact policy that was fair to renters. With the repeal of this law, the people of Redlands would have the ability to make policy that would set reasonable limits on rent increases on single family homes, condos and buildings built after 1995.
Back in January, the editorial staff of the Redlands Daily Facts argued that rent-control was “Magical Thinking” even while acknowledging the benefits of rent control for renters.
Their argument in the end does not offer any solution for those struggling with their rent. One must assume that they believe that if you can’t afford to live in Redlands that’s just too bad and you got to go. I would presume that the editorial team’s position falls into the “Not in My Back Yard” (NIMBY) camp. NIMBYs don’t want to see additional home development in their neighborhoods. On the other end of the spectrum you have “Yes in My Back Yard” (YIMBY) folks who want to build housing at all income levels to address the issues of housing supply. If we trust the Redlands Daily Facts’ argument that rent control leads to lack of housing supply one might find themselves siding with YIMBY to expand the housing market. And while it may address a supply and demand issue, I feel like we need a better solution.
Housing is not a commodity
First we must cut the tie between housing and the market. If we believe that everyone has the right to a good home, we must stop looking at housing as a commodity. By treating housing as a commodity we subject ourselves and our neighbors to a distorted market that often excludes and expels poor and working class families from “prime locations” and away from their jobs.
If new housing developed by corporations will collect rents according to “market rates” I would reject the YIMBY position as well as NIMBY. What we need is what some have called PHIMBY or public housing in my back yard. YIMBY will not significantly improve the housing situation for low income people as it wouldn’t necessarily mean affordable homes would be constructed.
I believe what is best for Redlands is the production of subsidized, below-market-rate units while also using rent control as a way to protect renters. In a separate post I will examine the possibility of municipal housing in Redlands as a solution to the problem outlined above.