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Vote no on Prop 21
Two years ago, a carbon copy of Proposition 21 was defeated by nearly 20 percentage points statewide. In November, it deserves to go down in flames again.
COVID-19 has changed the world, particularly the housing world. Yet Prop 21 is the same tired proposal that is viewed by housing experts, economists, and labor as being counterproductive in overcoming California's affordable housing shortage.
Proposition 21 will result in fewer housing units being built, fewer housing options being available to renters, and it will likely force mom-and-pop property owners — who own the bulk of rental properties — to sell their units to giant corporate landlords.
While the Bay Area Reporter editorial rightly points out that both San Francisco and Berkeley have rent control laws and other communities do not, it fails to note that these two cities have some of the highest rents in the state ["B.A.R. ballot measure endorsements," Editorial, August 12]. Those two facts are not unrelated. Prop 21 means less housing on the market and less incentive to build affordable housing, which is not exempt from its provisions.
In addition, the nonpartisan legislative analyst has concluded it will cost our communities in the "high tens of millions of dollars." That means fewer dollars for health care, schools and other critical programs valued by Californians and the LGBTQ community.
Let's be clear: Prop 21 has nothing in it to prevent evictions. It has nothing in it to prevent homelessness.
What it does do is pours gasoline on the housing crisis facing millions of Californians. That's about the last thing both renters and property owners need right now, and why Prop 21 deserves a no vote.
Californians for Responsible Housing
Too poor to qualify as low-income
I moved to San Francisco in 1979, and lived in the Castro in an adjacent neighborhood until 2020. Even though I was a full-time college professor, I could no longer afford my rent-controlled apartment in the face of the ever-escalating cost of living. I currently live in a rural community in upstate New York, in bona fide low-income housing. My current rent is one-third of my monthly income.
At the suggestion of a friend, who knows how much I miss the Bay Area and how pointless my living in the middle of nowhere is, I have been signed up with the San Francisco Housing Authority to apply for low-income housing waitlists. (I am also applying at every Bay Area county.) This has been a very interesting learning process. The best I have done so far has been slot #562 for 20 units. Of course, I do not qualify for any of the four "special categories" that put people to the head of the lists. (For "gay" or "HIV" I must be a current resident of San Francisco.) For the vast majority of lotteries I am too poor to qualify as low-income. Recently, I was invited to apply for a listing where the lowest rent is $1,000 a month more than my monthly income. The most outrageous invitation was for what the city laughably calls "low"-income rent of $6,000. On what planet is $6,000 rent "low" income?
One needs to be pretty wealthy to be "poor" in San Francisco nowadays. How sad.
Les K. Wright, Ph.D.
Cortland, New York
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