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The Yeas and Nays on Housing Legislation

This midterm, voters in key states cast their ballot on legislation that would either increase construction of homes or introduce new rent regulations to protect tenants.

While Georgia passed a ballot referendum to help nonprofits in the state provide housing for those living with mental illness, California went to vote on three affordable housing ballot measures.

The first one was a Bill called the Veterans and Affordable Housing Act that would allow the state to sell $4 billion in general bonds to fund existing affordable housing programs for low-income people, veterans and farmworkers. If passed, most of them would go toward existing affordable housing programs while $1 billion would go to veteran housing programs.

The second legislation would authorize $2billion in previously appropriated funding to go towards building housing for the homeless and for people with disabilities or mental illness, Stateline reported.

However, the most debated legislation, called Proposition 10, or the Local Rent Control Initiative Act, would expand rent control. Proposition 10 was also one of the costliest legislation campaigns this election. According to a CNBC report, proponents of this legislation spent around $26.2 million on the campaign while those opposed to this legislation spent $76 million.

At the heart of the battle for and against this proposition was a state law that currently restricts the scope of rent control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property. If the Proposition were enacted, this law would be repealed resulting in a potential net reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. "Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more," the Official Voter Information Guide on California's General Election said.

According to the Guide, those for the proposition had said that enacting this legislation would restore authority to establish rent control in local communities while putting fair, annual limits on the amount landlords can raise in terms of rent. "This keeps tenants in their homes rather than being pushed far away or into homelessness," the proponents said.

Those opposing it, which also included those affiliated with realtors as well as residential real estate investors, argued that the new legislation would make the housing crisis worse and not better. The guide said Affordable housing advocates agreed that Proposition 10 was bad for renters and for homeowners as it allowed the regulation of single-family homes and put "bureaucrats in charge of housing by letting them add fees on top of rent."

The voters of California sided with the opposition and voted no on this legislation. That means, for now, the 1995 state law remains in place.

Read more about our election coverage and how it impacted housing:

A Change of Order

About Author: Radhika Ojha

Radhika Ojha is an independent writer and copy-editor, and a reporter for DS News. She is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and Marketing and an M.A. in Mass Communication. Upon completion of her masters degree, Ojha worked at a national English daily publication in India (The Indian Express) where she was a staff writer in the cultural and arts features section. Ojha, also worked as Principal Correspondent at HT Media Ltd and at Honeywell as an executive in corporate communications. She and her husband currently reside in Houston, Texas.

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