With the city in the midst of a housing crisis and homelessness surge, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin joined members of the Yes on ULA coalition to picket the California Association of Realtors and rally support for the affordable housing ballot measure.
“This is the answer to so many of our problems,” Bonin said. “Unlike all the legislation that has come up to deal with homelessness and affordable housing, this comes from the grassroots. This comes from people who are renting in Los Angeles. This comes from people who have been unhoused in Los Angeles. This comes from the organizations that provide housing. This comes from the organizations that have been fighting to protect renters and to provide more affordable housing. And that’s why this is going to be so effective.”
The goal of Measure ULA is to fight the housing and homelessness crises through investing in housing creation at lower rates, providing income assistance to low-income seniors and people with disabilities at risk of homelessness, and buying existing and building new affordable housing for nearly 70,000 people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in the first 10 years.
Bonin expressed his belief that the measure would successfully allow for the creation of new affordable housing, preservation of existing affordable housing and distribution of aid to seniors and people with disabilities so that they can remain housed.
Measure ULA is estimated to raise nearly $900 million annually through a real estate transfer tax on sales of properties over $5 million, impacting roughly 4% of annual sales in the city. The fund would be overseen by a Citizens Committee led by an inspector general.
“My understanding is that there are only fewer than 300 homes in Los Angeles that are worth more than $5 million, and therefore would be impacted if they were sold,” said Roxana Tynan, executive director at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). “We have over 4 million people living in this city, and fewer than 300 of them own a home that might be impacted if they sold. There is no way that we can allow the future economic health of our city to depend on such a tiny fraction of people.”
Tynan described that, during her time with LAANE, she has worked with many low-wage workers throughout LA who have been forced to move out of the city due to the rising prices.
“That doesn’t make any sense. The people who are working here, who are making LA’s economy work, could no longer afford to live here,” she said. “We need to vote to make sure that we hold ourselves and our city accountable to building the kind of affordable housing we need, to keeping people in their homes, to making sure that the workers who make LA work can stay here in the city where they work.”
The United to House LA gathering, which took place on Nov. 3, brought together members of the 230-member strong coalition backing Measure ULA to the steps of the California Association of Realtors office at 525 South Virgil Avenue.
Real estate interests have reportedly invested more than $5.6 million against Measure ULA, with the California Association of Realtors, Westfield Properties, the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC and New Majority PAC opposing the campaign.
The primary message of the campaign against ULA, as evidenced by the No on ULA website, is that the measure would result in “higher property taxes.” The Measure ULA coalition responded by calling this the “impossible lie” because Proposition 13, enacted in 1978, deems it unconstitutional for local governments to raise property taxes.
“Prop 13 made it impossible to increase property taxes,” said Denny Zane, policy director at Move LA. “This is not a property tax. It’s a tax on the sale of luxury property.”
“We want them to stop the lies,” added Eli Lipmen, executive director at Move LA. “If they get their way, the number of evictions, people on the street and people displaced from Los Angeles because of the high cost of rent, and the lack of affordable housing are going skyrocket.
“It’s already happening. They spent a whole decade raising our rents, raising our mortgages, building luxury apartments that went well above what Angelinos can afford and making it harder for us to own a home.”
Measure ULA coalition members have also pointed to a recent apology issued by the California Association of Realtors for past discriminatory policies that opposed affordable housing for underserved communities.
“They apologized … but then in that same breath, they oppose ULA,” former Inglewood Mayor Danny Tabor said. “In their apology, they say that they want to offer closing cost grants for members of underserved communities buying housing. They say they want to donate to the Black Wealth Builders Fund that will pay down payment assistance for home ownership. They say they want to partner and work with sponsoring nonprofit organizations that support greater home ownership. If they want to do all of those things, why aren’t they supporting ULA?”
According to reports, adults over the age of 55 are the fastest-growing demographic of people experiencing homelessness in LA County, with seniors comprising nearly a quarter of the county’s unhoused population. In total, the city’s homeless population has increased by nearly 3,000 people since 2020.
“There are so many incredibly vital issues and elections on this ballot, but this may be the most important of all because this helps us deal with the two biggest crises we have in Los Angeles: the homelessness crisis and our affordable housing crisis,” Bonin declared. “It acknowledges how those two things are linked, and it gives us the resources to address both of them at the same time.
“It is so vitally important. This is one of the smartest things I have ever seen on the ballot to address homelessness and affordable housing, and we have an opportunity to get it done. The forces against us are extreme. Up and down this ballot, there’re special interest that are trying to kill progress … and they are going to do everything to prevent us from making those who profit from a broken housing market pay to solve those problems.”