Amid California Housing Crisis, New Rent Control Resources Aim to Support Tenants

By Equal Voice Action


Apartment buildings in Berkeley, California, where rent controls are active and established. Photo: Kalle Nemvalts CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In California, an already severe and growing housing crisis continues to disproportionately affect low-income families and families of color, who face rapidly rising rents, unjust evictions, and nowhere to turn when they lose their home.

Two new resources aim to build on recent wins for renters in the Golden State to expand and strengthen rent control and just-cause protections for more communities where families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

This month, Tenants Together, California’s only statewide renters’ rights organization, released an updated and expanded version of its rent control toolkit, Communities Thrive with Rent Control: A Guide for California Cities, which includes overviews and evidence-based analysis on rent controls in California, along with strategies for organizing and communicating around this issue.

Readers can use the guide to learn about the current policy framework, case studies, talking points, opposition strategies, and effective methods for getting rent control initiatives on the ballot in your community.

The free toolkit is available for download in both English and Spanish.


Image: Urban Habitat, from its 2018 report, Strengthening Communities Through Rent Control and Just-Cause Evictions: Case Studies from Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Richmond

Urban Habitat, a member of the Bay Area Equal Voice Coalition, joined with its organizational ally Tenants Together in the release of the toolkit to share its own new, corresponding report, Strengthening Communities Through Rent Control and Just-Cause Evictions: Case Studies from Berkeley, Santa Monica, and Richmond.

This new study maps the growing renters’ rights movement in California – where 19 cities have implemented binding rent control and/or just-cause eviction policies – and offers detailed case studies and takeaways.

The report draws on data and analysis regarding established rent controls in Berkeley and Santa Monica, and a newly implemented rent board in Richmond, to address and refute common arguments against rent control and outline effective policy approaches and best practices for rent board administration.

As the report notes, “the goals of rent control and just-cause eviction policies are to preserve social and economic diversity, provide tenants with stable and affordable rents, maintain a variety of housing types, and protect tenants from sudden and unjust evictions.”

The full report can be viewed and downloaded here.

While focused on the California policy framework, the Rent Control toolkit and Strengthening Communities report can serve as useful resources for exploring, advancing, and defending rent control and just-cause protections in communities throughout the U.S., as families throughout our network and nation face increasing displacement in today’s sharply uneven economy.

Tenants Together Associate Director Aimee Inglis writes:

No one who advocates for rent control believes it to be a silver bullet to the housing crisis, but it is a lifeline for our communities. The most vulnerable populations: seniors and disabled people on fixed incomes, young people, and communities of color, benefit from rent control because they are the most affected by rent gouging and evictions by speculators. Those who do not support rent control and only support adding market-rate supply do not value those that already live here and the most vulnerable among us. Rent control is just part of the solution to the housing crisis, but we will never solve the crisis without it.”

As California’s only statewide renters’ rights organization, Tenants Together works to improve the lives of California’s tenants through education, organizing, and advocacy. Tenants Together seek to galvanize a statewide movement for renters’ rights. As a network supported by members and member organizations, Tenants Together works to empower renters to assert their rights and provide the tools to organize and advocate in their own communities.

Founded in 1989 by architect and urban planner Carl Anthony, Urban Habitat works to democratize power and advance equitable policies to create a just and connected Bay Area for low-income communities and communities of color. Urban Habitat is an organizational member of the Bay Area Equal Voice Coalition and Tenants Together.

To watch the video from the press conference for the release of the Tenants Together toolkit and Urban Habitat report, click here.

For more information on this issue, see the following EVA resource:

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