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California Proposition 21: Rent Control

For rent

This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

Proposition 21 is also known as The Rental Affordability Act, or RAA, and seeks to expand rent control across the state.

Proposition 21 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. That law blocks cities from passing rent control ordinances on housing built since 1995. So if Prop 21 passes cities could do that, but new rent control laws would not apply to any landlord owning two or fewer properties.


If you’re a voter, this all may sound familiar to you. In 2018, a similar initiative was on the ballot. But it was rejected by a 59 to 41% vote. 


Now the idea has returned. Proposition 21 is sponsored by the group Housing Is A Human Right. Supporters spent $3.5 million to get more than a million signatures. And the measure has been endorsed over 200 times by the likes of Dolores Huerta, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, senator Bernie Sanders, and members of the Alameda and Oakland city councils. 


But Proposition 21’s opponents argue it will make the housing crisis worse. They say that the measure will limit affordable housing, reduce availability of blue collar jobs, and reduce funding for state and local services. And some statistics show that rent control leads to landlords updating and renovating properties less. Groups opposing the measure include affordable housing developers, veteran groups and unions, and the local government of Orange County. 


So, here’s what it comes down to: if you want to expand rent control across the state, vote yes on Proposition 21. If you don’t think this is the way to address California's housing crisis, vote no.