15
Mon, Jul

Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, and Essex Property Trust are Top Contributors to Stop Rent Control Expansion in California

IMPORTANT READS

HOUSING - Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, and Essex Property Trust are the top contributors of Big Real Estate’s multi-million-dollar blitz to stop the expansion of rent control in California. The three companies, who are among the largest corporate landlords in the United States, fear that rent control will rein in their ability to charge excessive rents year after year, impacting their outsized profits. A statewide, pro-rent control coalition, however, continues to gain momentum. 

Activists have long said that the predatory business practices of corporate landlords have fueled the housing affordability crisis in California, which has worsened homelessness. A major UC San Francisco study recently found that skyrocketing rents have caused homelessness.

It’s why a growing coalition of housing justice groups, labor unions, social justice organizations, and elected leaders supports the Justice for Renters Act — U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta are among the endorsers. The November ballot measure will end statewide rent control restrictions in California, and allow cities to expand rent regulations. Housing Is A Human Right and its parent organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, are sponsoring the initiative.

The strong grassroots support for the Justice for Renters Act has corporate landlords worried that they’ll no longer be able to charge exorbitant rents, year after year, hauling in massive profits off the backs of hard-working tenants. 

Between 2010 and 2019, for example, American tenants paid landlords a whopping $4.5 trillion in rent, according to Zillow. In 2019, Los Angeles and San Francisco tenants handed over an astounding $39.1 billion and $16.4 billion, respectively, to landlords. Corporate landlords such as Essex Property Trust, AvalonBay Communities, and Equity Residential operate in multiple cities in California.

It’s no surprise, then, that Essex Property Trust, AvalonBay Communities, and Equity Residential, who are mired in the price-fixing RealPage scandal, are the top contributors to stop the expansion of rent control through the Justice for Renters Act — and to silence AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s housing advocacy work.

Essex Property Trust, AvalonBay Communities, and Equity Residential are carrying out a shell game in which they contribute to the California Apartment Association Issues Committee, which then delivers millions in campaign cash to a No on Justice for Renters committee and a November ballot measure called Protect Patients Now. Protect Patients Now seeks to stop AHF’s work on rent control and other housing justice issues.

In other words, Protect Patients Now – a highly controversial, possibly illegal ballot measure – aims to stop AHF’s participation in the democratic process. 

The initiative is so alarming that the National Organization for Women, the California Democratic Party Renters’ Council, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Veterans’ Voices, Consumer Watchdog, Coalition for Economic Survival, and UNITE HERE Local 11 have officially opposed Protect Patients Now.

In the meantime, Essex Property Trust, AvalonBay Communities, and Equity Residential keep pulling strings behind the scenes, hiring high-priced consultants such as Ace Smith, Nathan Click, and Jim DeBoo, who are all closely connected to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and shelling out millions in campaign cash.

In total, Essex Property Trust, AvalonBay Communities, and Equity Residential have delivered an eye-popping $16,249,875 to the California Apartment Association Issues Committee, according to state filings. 

Essex Property Trust has contributed a staggering $8,800,000 to the California Apartment Association Issues Committee; Equity Residential has shelled out $3,917,625; and AvalonBay Communities has forked over $3,532,250.

The California Apartment Association Issues Committee then sends the corporate landlords’ cash to Protect Patients Now and No on Justice for Renters. 

California YIMBY, the land-use lobbying group for Big Tech, has also joined corporate landlords in opposing the Justice for Renters Act. Housing justice activists say it’s yet another example of California YIMBY carrying out Big Real Estate’s anti-rent control, pro-gentrification housing agenda.

The mainstream media have been slow to report Big Real Estate’s anti-rent control campaign contributions and the shell game that’s playing out. But activists expect corporate landlords to spend more than $100 million to stop the expansion of rent control in California and to end AHF’s housing advocacy work.

Follow Housing Is A Human Right on Facebook and X.

(Patrick Range McDonald, author and journalist, Best Activism Journalism: Los Angeles Press Club, Journalist of the Year: Los Angeles Press Club, Public Service Award: Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and a contributor to CityWatch. ) 

Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays