On July 20th, the Sacramento Land Trust Committee met at Southside Park Co-housing. They discussed the need for expansion, and how they plan to reach more Sacramento residents. The Sacramento Land Trust Committee, a nonprofit organization, aims to build equity for low to moderate-income residents.
A housing crisis in Sacramento continues to persist as many residents of the county struggle to pay for rent. According to Yardi Matrix, a commercial real estate research and data platform, Sacramento had the highest year-over-year rent increases in the state, an average of 9.9%, from June 2016 to June 2017. As a result, many residents were evicted from their homes and some have even become homeless. The eviction rate in Sacramento is 2.16% per 100 renter homes with a total of 2,044 evictions and the poverty rate in Sacramento is 17.43%, according to Eviction Lab.
However, there’s a movement in California that’s seeking rent control. Many people believe rent control is the solution to Sacramento’s current housing crisis and activists are pushing for this measure to be on the California ballot. This ballot proposition seeks to repeal a 1995 state law called the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act and, if repealed, it will allow cities and counties to make stronger rent control policies.
Proponents of this initiative have said that they’ve collected more than 588,000 signatures from registered voters for this ballot and they only needed 365,880 signatures by June to qualify.
“With the increased number of corporate landlords, we’re seeing a lot of rent gouging take place,” said campaign spokesman Damien Goodmon. “We’ve been able to put together a very formidable and growing progressive coalition that we think will make this a simple choice to anyone who is looking to the direction that progressives would like to go.”
However, opponents of this ballot measure argued that the bill would stymie construction of new housing across the state and cause an “affordable housing freeze”.
“This ballot measure will pour gasoline on the fire of California’s affordable housing crisis,” said California Apartment Association CEO Tom Bannon. “It will do exactly the opposite of what it promises. Instead of helping Californians, it will result in an affordable housing freeze and higher costs.”
Sacramento tenants have suffered one of the highest rent increases in the country during the past year. Rents in Sacramento have increased nearly 10 percent in 2017, making it the highest rental market of any city in the entire nation.
Renters have had enough. Housing advocate group Organize Sacramento intends to collect signatures to have a measure added to the November ballot that would encapsulate the tempest that has become Sacramento’s housing market.
“How many years can we have nearly 10 percent average rent increases?” said Michelle Pariset, one of the ballot’s authors and a board member with Organize Sacramento told the Sacramento Bee. “Who making minimum wage can deal with 10 percent year-over-year rent increases?”
The measure named the Sacramento Renter Protection and Community Stabilization Charter Amendment, would cap annual rent increases on older buildings at 5 percent, implement “just cause” protections for tenants, and require financial relocation assistance for renters that are forced to move out.
This measure could be very helpful to elevate Sacramento’s growing homeless population, as many of renters, particularly those who are low income, suffered greatly from the rent increase.
However, a lot of landlords feel as if the measure will do more harm than good.
“Rent control is the wrong solution to our shortage of affordable housing in the region,” senior vice president of the California Apartment Association, Jim Lofgren, expressed on the CAA website. Lofgren believes that the measure will only discourage investors and developing companies from building in Sacramento. “We’re sympathetic to the plight of renters, we recognize there is a problem, but this is the wrong solution. We need to attract more investment in housing, and rent control only scares it away. It’s counterproductive.”
Many other California cities have already adopted rent control measures like Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Organize Sacramento has until May to collect nearly 40,000 signatures to put its proposition on the November ballot.
Did you know that Sacramento and many cities in the Central Valley ranked among the top in the nation in rent increases? In this video, we look at the statistics and how it affects people.
Housing has been a major problem in Sacramento for the past several years. Whether it be the affordable housing crisis or high rents, many people are struggling with finding a place to live. Even when people find apartments to live in, they can still face problems as tenants. Often, low-income tenants struggle to pay their rent. They struggle because they are what’s considered a “cost-burdened” tenant. That means that they have to pay 50% or more of their income on rent. According to a Harvard study reported by National Public Radio, 72% of people who make under $15,000 a year have to pay more than half of their income on rent. Cost-burdened tenants are more likely to be evicted or treated unfairly by their landlord because of their struggling ability to pay rent.
One group that seeks to stand up for tenants rights in Sacramento is the Sacramento Tenants Union. On January 8th they held a meeting in the Organize Sacramento office to discuss solidarity in supporting each other rights as tenants. It was an open door meeting and everyone was welcome to join.
“The Sacramento Tenants Union [believes that] housing is a human rights, solidarity is key,” said Lazaro Cardenas, a member of STU. “It is important to recognize that tenants are not defined by one issue. Affordable, rent control and evictions are issues that impacted a lot of people incident in Sacramento and other states. The mission of the Sacramento Tenants Union is to ensure a strong solidarity amongst tenants in Sacramento.”
Tenants have rights that are protected by state and federal laws. The Sacramento Tenants Union seeks to spread knowledge of those rights and protect people from unjust evictions.
A showing of City Rising will be playing for free at the Crest Theater on 1013 K Street at 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm on December 14th. After the screening of the movie there will be a discussion panel afterwards. RSVPing to this event is required, and you can find the link to tickets here.
City Rising is about gentrification in the United States. Gentrification is when businesses reinvest in an area that is typically of a lower class. To business owners, this practice is called revitalization.
Though this may sound good, many of the people who have lived in these areas for years get forced out of their homes because their rent is increasing too much, and the cost of living gets too high for them to pay.
In a previous article about the documentary itself, Jazmine Justice-Young got a quote from the documentary.
“The area, which used to be mostly, predominantly black… I go there and I don’t even see black people anymore,” Tanya Faison said in the documentary. “Our mayor has taken it and flipped it and renovated it. People are being criminalized. People are being paid to move out of their apartments.”
Whether you think of the practice of increasing rent to be Gentrification or revitalization, watch the movie and join the discussion about the practice with other people who are interested in the topic.
Rental prices in Sacramento have been rising over the last few years. Sacramento rental costs have seen an increase of 10% every year since 2014. While it’s impossible to say for certain why rents are so high in Sacramento, it is important to look at the problem and see how it is affecting people.
According to KCRA, the Blackstone Group investment firm owns 1,566 single family homes in Sacramento County. Even though that number might seem small, the group owns more homes than most other groups except for the City of Sacramento.
“We see Blackstone and companies like it charging rates above market — and that leads other folks to follow suit,” said Veronica Beaty, a Sacramento Housing Alliance spokesperson to KCRA.
Many people in Sacramento are not excited about the cost of rent. There are four colleges in the greater Sacramento area: California State University, Sacramento City College, Cosumnes River College, and American River College. The high rent could be the reasons why many students are struggling to find their own place to live. Students instead may resort to living at their parent’s house or in some cases, become homeless. Students can work full time in order to afford housing, however that might impede them academically.
“Having a consistency at home is key because how are you going to focus on algebra if you don’t know where you live, you know, or if you’re sleeping on somebody couch?” said Chandler Cooper, John F. Kennedy High School’s ASSETs Director. “(If) you don’t (have) a space that is your own you don’t have privacy, there might be little kid running around, you might have to be kick out of the house at a certain point because of rules that aren’t your own. All that stuff factor in, let alone being a young developing person.”