Calif. rent control initiative a “Trojan horse” to worsen housing crisis, affordable housing advocates say.

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A coalition of affordable housing advocates have come together to oppose a ballot measure that would remove statewide limits on rent control and its proponent, Michael Weinstein. 

The Housing Action Coalition and the Council for Affordable Housing went further than simple opposition, calling Weinstein’s measure a Trojan horse that is actually about trying to fool voters into supporting his anti-housing agenda. 

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The big picture: Weinstein, the director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation who has supported a number of ballot measures previously, is backing the Justice for Renters Act. 

  • The Justice for Renters Act would allow cities to enact rent control on newer apartments. 
  • Affordable housing groups say Weinstein’s measure would undermine dozens of California housing measures. They say it masquerades as a rent control measure but would actually create new loopholes for local governments to ignore laws and block housing. 
  • Huntington Beach councilman Tony Strickland said at a meeting in March that the measure would give local governments ironclad protections from the state’s housing policy and overreaching enforcement. 

What they’re saying: “Over the last few years, California has worked hard to create innovative legislation designed to make it easier to build desperately-needed housing,” said Jenna Abbott, Executive Director of California Council for Affordable Housing. “This legislation was supported into place by broad and bi-partisan coalitions made up of builders, developers who specialize in affordable housing, labor, and housing advocates, and the laws are working. The ballot initiative, if passed, would undo this hard work – allowing cities to skirt state rules and avoid building the housing California needs to thrive.” 

  • Corey Smith, the Executive Director of Housing Action Coalition, said Weinstein’s measure would worsen the state’s severe housing and homelessness crisis. 
  • “It will make it harder to build affordable housing at a time when we need it most, and it will make it more difficult for people experiencing homelessness to find housing,” Smith “This should come as no surprise, as the measure is written and funded by a man who has spent decades trying to stop new housing. This measure is a bait and switch: an attempt to fool Californians into reversing our housing progress. We aren’t buying it.”

The backstory: The California Apartment Association is trying to freeze Weinstein out of politics with a ballot measure of its own. 

  • The Protect Patients Now Act would require drug programs to spend 98 percent of its taxpayer-generated revenues on direct patient care, but would only apply to drug programs that have spent over $100 million on issues other than direct patient care. 
  • Weinstein’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the only group that would be affected by the measure, according to Politico, as Weinstein has funneled over $100 million into state ballot measures over the years.