Voters around the country Tuesday reacted to the worsening housing affordability crisisby passing a number of initiatives meant to address the problem, including statewide measures in California and Oregon, as well as local measures in Berkeley; Portland, Oregon; Bellingham, Washington; Telluride, Colorado; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin; and Chicago.
Voters in multiple states overwhelmingly passed ballot measures to issue bonds or raise taxes to fund affordable housing. Flagstaff, Arizona, was the sole exception. The results on rent control, however, were less clear, with a state measure to repeal state rent control limits losing in California, which preempted a local vote on rent control in Berkeley. And while voters in Chicago supported lifting the statewide ban on rent control, the nonbinding vote itself is only advisory and would not repeal the ban, which would have to be proposed by legislators through a bill.
“The relatively large number of housing measures on the ballot this year reflects a national sense of urgency amid rising housing costs, housing analysts say. A lack of federal action and cash-strapped state and local budgets have contributed to the crisis,” according to an article by Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, on Wednesday.
Housing prices are now at their least affordable level in a decade for buyers, and renters, especially those with low incomes, continue to struggle with rising rates.
Here’s a breakdown of the outcomes on state and local ballots:
- California Prop 1 for veterans and affordable housing: This authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for existing housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans and affordable housing. Prop 1 passed.
- California Prop 2 for the homeless: This funds housing for those with mental illness who are homeless by allowing the state to use up to $140 million of county mental health funds per year to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. Prop 2 passed.
- California Prop 10 for rent control: Prop 10 would repeal state limits on the kind of rent control cities and counties could offer, giving control to local regulators to, for example, impose rent control on single-family homes or cap rent on an apartment when it becomes vacant. Prop 10 lost.
- Berkeley Measure Q for rent control: Subject to California Prop 10 passing, this city measure would have changed Berkeley’s rent control laws to exempt new buildings from rent stabilization for 20 years, while maintaining all rent boosts made under state law when tenancy changed and start rent control from that level. While Measure Q won the city vote, most of it will not go into effect because California Prop 10 lost