Over protests from landlords and real estate brokers, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of an ordinance to temporarily limit rent increases to 3 percent in unincorporated areas of the county.
Dozens of renters turned out carrying signs reading “The rent is too damn high,” while many landlords and agencies that represent property owners countered that the ordinance would hurt rather than boost housing supply.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the dissenting vote against the interim ordinance, which is expected to come back to the board for another vote in 60 days and, if adopted, to take effect 30 days later. It would set base rents as of Sept. 11 and impose a cap for six months.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl championed the plan to limit rents while the county considers longer-term solutions, saying it will help solve the homelessness crisis.
She said she was mystified by some policymakers’ inability to see the link between rental rates and homelessness.
“They look at 58,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County and they say why?” Kuehl said.
Helping those living on the street with mental illness has been a critical focus, but Kuehl pointed to statistics showing that only one-third of the homeless population has an identifiable mental health problem. Most of the remaining two-thirds are newly homeless and without a home because of economic issues, she said.
Seniors are particularly hard-hit, Kuehl said. The last annual point-in-time count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found a 22 percent jump in homeless people 62 years and older.
Advocates on both sides said research was on their side.
Kuehl and Supervisor Hilda Solis, who co-authored the motion, cited research by USC and UCLA professors finding that rent regulations can help make housing more affordable.