Tenant advocates celebrate Prop C’s historic victory and vow to keep fighting for affordable housing and fair rents

Proposition C ‘Our City, Our Home’ wins big and brings SF home

by Christin Evans, Prop C proponent and business owner, and Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director, Coalition on Homelessness

Rev. Harry Williams speaks as supporters of Props 10 and C rally on Golden Gate Avenue on Monday, Sept. 24. – Photo: Kevin N. Hume, SF Examiner

San Francisco – The passage of this measure is a resounding voter mandate for desired change around homelessness, giving the city the resources it needs to finally address the crisis. For thousands of destitute San Franciscans, this has infused hope that they will soon have the opportunity to thrive that only a home can bring.

Prop C only taxes large corporations that gross over $50 million, which were also just given a huge 40 percent tax cut by the Trump administration, decreasing corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent. Prop C also has a detailed plan for both its spending and results and mandates community oversight of the funding. Currently the city spends only 3 percent of its budget addressing homelessness. This measure will double the city’s current efforts.

The Our City Our Home Yes on C campaign was able to overcome a seemingly insurmountable challenge with the combination of a strong grassroots campaign and large financial contributions from Salesforce and Co-CEO Marc Benioff. According to Ben Lintschinger from GLIDE: “Once this measure hits the streets, San Franciscans will see a steady and visible difference year after year as hundreds of people are helped off the streets as the City builds new housing, opens new shelters and expands much needed mental health services. We look forward to working with our elected officials and the community on implementing the vision we have voted in.”

According to Joe Wilson, executive director of Hospitality House (and formerly homeless): “This measure was birthed out of decades of movement building and the incredible breadth of support from tens of thousands of San Franciscans to put this issue to voters. From residents and community groups, to civil rights organizations and businesses, and most importantly, homeless people themselves.

“Thousands of homeless residents have been pushing for change, for the chance to rejoin community, for the support we all need but may not get, for the chance to find a home, have a home, and keep the homes we already have. For the basic human right to housing, dignity and safety – for the streets to be a place where we walk, not where we are forced to live as outcasts.”

According to Nicholas Kimura of Eviction Defense Collaborative: “Prop C’s broad and diverse coalition tapped into the City’s desire to finally end this crisis. With this incredible momentum supporting us, we now face the work of making sure our vision is implemented in a way that is centered on the experience and needs of homeless people and is data driven to ensure best results.

“We will now enter a new stage of outreaching to potential applicants of the oversight body, collecting data from homeless people directly on how best to use these funds and getting everything in place to make sure that when the funds are released they make the biggest difference possible. This will allow homeless residents to finally benefit from the transformation and opportunity that only a home can bring.“

Contact Coalition on Homelessness Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach at jfriedenbach@cohsf.org

Prop 10 & C: Tenant advocates keep on fighting

by Shanti Singh, Tenants Together; Fred Sherbern-Zimmer, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco; Deepa Varma, San Francisco Tenants Union; and Hunter King, Causa Justa Just Cause

San Francisco – Tenant advocates celebrate the historic Yes on C victory spearheaded by advocates and experts working on the ground with our homeless neighbors. We are grateful for all those who organized and voted with us to fund housing, services and eviction defense for our vulnerable residents.

As housing organizers, we also know that we must prevent evictions, including those resulting from Costa Hawkins, in order to end homelessness. Our Planning Department reports show that we can’t build new affordable units as fast as we are losing affordable rent-controlled units to evictions, and that the waiting lists for affordable housing are only growing longer.

Tenant advocates celebrate the historic Yes on C victory spearheaded by advocates and experts working on the ground with our homeless neighbors.

We know the majority of our homeless neighbors once had a home in San Francisco, which means we must continue the fight for real rent control to ensure that more folks don’t become homeless due to evictions. Tenants need stronger renter protections now! They can’t wait for housing to be built in many years to come.

Proposition 10, the Affordable Housing Act, is a ballot measure that would have restored the right of local communities to set fair limits on rent increases on all types of homes in order to address California’s housing affordability crisis. Although 4,582,794 Californians voted Yes on 10, the Yes vote won just 40.2 percent of the total vote.

While Prop 10 did not win, the Yes on 10 campaign’s passionate, grassroots organizing efforts have galvanized the housing justice movement in ways that felt unimaginable just two years ago. This outdated state law, which undermines local rent control protections, is now a household name across California thanks to this ballot fight.

We also brought rent control into the mainstream imagination, with endorsements from the Democratic Party, and widespread support from organized labor. It is common knowledge that we are in the midst of a devastating housing crisis, and tenant activists will continue the fight to make it a common priority to secure all the available tools to address skyrocketing rents, displacement and homelessness at the local and regional level.

While Prop 10 did not win, the Yes on 10 campaign’s passionate, grassroots organizing efforts have galvanized the housing justice movement in ways that felt unimaginable just two years ago.

With Costa Hawkins, the state legislature chose to protect big money instead of the folks who live here. We will continue to push our leaders to get on the right side of history and value people over profits.

“My neighbors and I have been building collective power to fight the biggest corporate landlord in San Francisco who uses Costa Hawkins rent increases and harassment to flip rent-controlled buildings,” said Lenea Maibaum, a tenant of Yat-Pang Au/Veritas Investments and dedicated advocate for the repeal of Costa Hawkins. “We’re just getting started, and we’re gonna keep knocking doors and organizing tenants to fight for rights to our homes and the city long after this election.”

Every tenant rights group in the state knows that repealing Costa-Hawkins is essential to strengthening our rent control laws, and recent polls consistently show that over 60 percent of Californians say they want stronger rent control and know that it is the number one solution to our housing crisis.

As expected, Blackstone, Russell Flynn, Essex Properties and other giant corporate landlords sponsoring ‘No On 10’ reportedly spent around $100 million peddling lies to confuse voters on what Prop 10 would actually do – literally just repeal a state law that restricts local rent control. What surprised us, however, was that they almost exclusively used these ads to claim that Prop 10 would hurt renters, families, seniors, communities of color and even veterans.

“If we weren’t right in our assessment of the housing crisis, and if our solutions were not already so popular, the real estate industry would not have resorted to co-opting our message of protecting the vulnerable and stabilizing communities,” said Deepa Varma, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union. “We know that Big Real Estate players don’t care about communities, or making rents affordable.

“They are the ones raising the rents and benefiting from evictions. While these real estate tycoons continue to make a mockery of our democratic processes, we are going to keep on building our tenant rights movement from local to national levels.”

Every tenant rights group in the state knows that repealing Costa-Hawkins is essential to strengthening our rent control laws.

We thank the everyday people who took on this effort to help stop skyrocketing rents and prevent homelessness that often follows evictions – the people who spoke with their families and neighbors, shared events on social media pages, walked the streets with us, phone banked and helped spread the word throughout the city.

This was a valiant ballot effort, and we give much gratitude to the groups dedicated to repealing Costa Hawkins and fighting for housing rights across the state, including the ACLU, the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods, Housing Now, Tenants Together, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, ACCE, San Francisco Tenants Union, Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Senior & Disability Action, PODER, Million Voters Project, Democratic Socialists of America, California Calls, APEN, Oakland Rising, SF Rising, LA Tenants Union, SAJE, United Educators of San Francisco, California Nurses Association, and the CA Labor Council, to name a few.

“As doctors and nurses, we recognize that the health of our patients hinges on their ability to maintain safe and affordable housing,” said Juliana Morris, Chris Ahlbach and Rachel Schenkel of Do No Harm Coalition and Zenei Cortez of California Nurses Association. “Rent control is healthcare and housing is a human right!”

The housing movement has gained thousands of newly empowered tenants and has broadened, become more organized, stronger and more skilled in this fight. We will keep building with each other across organizations, coalitions and across the nation to create a world we all can live in, a world where everyone has a roof over their head.

For more information, contact these advocates: