San Francisco

Proposition 10 a Key Issue in Bay Area Housing Crisis

As Election Day approaches, homelessness is one of the issues on the minds of many California voters, likely making Proposition 10 a contentious item on the ballot.

If Prop. 10 passes, cities and counties will be able to adopt stronger rent control laws.

But not everyone is on board. Opponents of the proposition say it will slow the production of new units for low-income families, the people hardest hit by the housing crisis.

Supporters of Prop. 10, on the other hand, say the state needs to protect overburdened renters who are not just being pushed out of their neighborhoods but out of the state.

"It’s almost like being a sharecropper," Oakland resident Merika Reagan said. "You work so hard just to have a roof over your head."

Reagan has lived in the Bay Area all her life. At first, she couldn’t afford San Francisco. Now, it seems she can’t afford Oakland either.

"The thought of having to shut my business down and move to another state and try to start up again is completely terrifying," she said.

Moving to Texas with her partner is Reagan's last resort if their landlord continues to raise the rent.

"They wanted to increase it to month to month $1,000 dollars," she said. "My pay is not increasing like that!"

Reagan in November is voting yes on Prop. 10, which repeals the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act. It would allow cities across California to adopt rent control on all types of housing, including new apartment buildings.

It’s an issue an analyst with UC Berkeley’s HAAS Institute isn’t just researching but also is living through.

"I am unable to afford a place in Berkeley, so I commute a pretty far distance to work every day," researcher Nicole Montojo said.

A recent report Montojo co-authored says rent control won’t solve California’s homeless crisis. But it will stabilize housing costs.

"It’s all about profit, dollars, and how can our shareholders make as much money as possible," Reagan said.

The report’s findings won’t convince everybody, including Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, who plans to vote no on Prop. 10. Opponents such as Butt argue rent control can have negative consequences like less tax revenue for cities.

"If the repeal of the Costa-Hawkins Housing Act passes, I don’t think you’ll ever see a new rental project built in Richmond," he said.

Whether or not Prop. 10 passes in November, researchers agree it’s not going to fix the Bay Area’s housing shortage.

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