Proposition 10: Housing and The Filipino Community
This is a guest article written by Katherine Nasol and Roy Taggueg, republished with permission from the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies.
Proposition 10, also known as the Local Rent Control Initiative, repeals the 1995 Costa Hawkins Act -- a law that that prohibits most units built after 1995 from being rent-controlled. The Act limits city governments and local jurisdictions from imposing rent control regulations, allowing units to be priced at free market rates after rent-controlled tenants leave. Opponents believe that Prop 10 does not address housing shortages and that it restricts homeowners from renting a room in their home through imposed price controls. However, Prop 10’s repeal of Costa Hawkins Act will prevent landlords from imposing high rent increases and give local communities the power to adopt rent control.
California has one the most expensive rental markets in the country. In a recent community-based research project, Renters of Silicon Valley, one renter notes, “In 2011, [my apartment] was $1200 for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath. The cost of that apartment now is almost $3000.” The high rental costs have resulted in the state’s current housing crisis. Simultaneously, about 19% of California residents are living in poverty, which is higher than the nation’s poverty rate of 13.9% (US Census Bureau 2018).
California renters are experiencing the brunt of this crisis. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, a household becomes cost-burdened if a household is paying more than 30% of its income on rent. In 2015, four in ten households were cost-burdened, while one in five households were severely cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing (California Budget and Policy Center 2017).
This crisis disproportionately affects low-income populations and people of color (California Budget and Policy Center 2017). Eight in ten low-income households are cost-burdened, and two in three Californians with unaffordable housing costs are people of color (California Budget and Policy Center 2017).
Filipinos are the largest Asian ethnic group in California (US Census Bureau 2010) and according to the 2008 National Asian American Survey, 22.24% of Filipinos identified as renters and 14.37% of Filipinos held an income of $20,000 to $50,000. In a more recent study, the 2016 California Health Interview Survey, about 36% of Asians in the sample stated they were renters, and 31% of Asians make less than $30K per year. Studies have shown how Filipinos have high home ownership rates, yet these statistics do not account for overcrowding in these homes and the housing conditions for new immigrants (UCLA Asian American Studies Center 2013.) Although there is no current disaggregated research, these findings show a dire need to understand how to best support Filipino renters and non-renters in accessing affordable housing.
On September 2018, the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies coordinated its first Filipino Community Policy Symposium and gathered advocates and policy experts across the state to discuss how to best serve the Filipino community. Advocates in the San Francisco Bay Area noted the rise of gentrification in low-income neighborhoods, the skyrocketing rent increases, and how rent control serves as a “lifeline” for families to afford a place to live.
Angelica Cabande, the organizational director of the South of Market Community Action Network, states, “Tenants are not just being evicted here in San Francisco, but in San Mateo and Daly City. They are being pushed farther and farther away, and are competing with other local tenants. Sacramento and Santa Cruz are now facing these ripple effects.” Those living in the Central Valley and greater Sacramento area note the consequences of this outward migration from the Bay Area, driving up local rental fees.
Similarly in Southern California, one in three renters in Los Angeles are severely cost-burdened (Joint Center for Housing Studies 2017). In the past year alone, 8000 people have become homeless for the first time (LA Homeless Services Survey 2017). Alex Montances, an organizer with the Filipino Migrant Center (FMC), says, “Here in Long Beach, we do not have rent control, and at the FMC, most of our clients are Filipino people with evictions or who are searching for housing, and many Filipino and Latino families are living in crowded and small apartments in bad conditions. Our renters in Long Beach can’t afford anymore rent hikes.”
The expensive rental market has also impacted Filipino students across the state. Angie Tullo, a student activist at UC Santa Cruz, shares, “Santa Cruz has one of the most expensive rental markets in the world, and the university now has 18,000 students with hopes of enrolling 2000 more by 2040. Those who will be most vulnerable are low-income students who are often preyed by landlords. We find ourselves asking the university why campus housing is $1300 for a double, triple, or even a quadruple. Housing is also in very poor conditions. One of my neighbors had to take a leave of absence because he got so sick from the black mold and musk. This is not an isolated case.” UC Santa Cruz is one of the three UC campuses where Filipinos make up one fifth of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander freshmen (Campaign for College Opportunity 2015).
Across the UC and CSU system, Filipino students make up 4.1% of the CSU student population, and 13.4% of the AANHPI population in the UC system (CSU 2015, Campaign for College Opportunity 2015). The trend of homelessness and displacement has been found across campuses with 5% of the UC student population and 10.1% of the CSU student population reporting to have experienced homelessness (UC Global Food Initiative 2017, CSU Basic Needs Initiative 2018).
The UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies recommends voters to vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 10. Proposition 10 would protect millions of renters, Filipino and non-Filipino alike, from evictions, displacement, and homelessness, and encourage local communities to adopt rent control regulations. Although those critical of Proposition 10 are wary that the law will not address the ongoing housing shortage, Prop 10 will provide a safety net for the many households who are currently cost-burdened. Rent control will be able to stabilize rents for existing tenants, improve and preserve the affordability of housing, and prevent further displacement. For non-renters, Proposition 10 will create opportunities for first-time homeowners and property owners to invest in more stable and diverse communities.
Katherine Nasol is a Bay Area-based community organizer and PhD student in the UC Davis Cultural Studies Graduate Group. Roy Taggueg is a graduate student at UC Davis in the Department of Sociology, and a Health Policy Research Scholar with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program. The UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies is the first Center for Filipino Studies within the University of California System. With its close proximity to the Sacramento State Capitol, the Center is a policy think tank that produces reports and community-based research on key issues affecting the Filipino community.
US Census Bureau. The Supplemental Poverty Measure 2017. September 2018.
Kimberlin, Sara. Hutchful, “New Census Figures Show That California Has 7.5 Million Residents Living in Poverty— More Than Any Other State.” California Policy and Budget Center. September 2018.
Joint Center for Housing Studies. The State of the Nation's Housing. 2017.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2017 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report. December 2017.
Institutional Research and Analysis. CSU Enrollment by Campus and Ethnic Group, Fall 2015.
Kimberlin, Sara. “Californians in All Parts of the State Pay More Than They Can Afford for Housing. California Budget and Policy Center. Fact Sheet.” September 2017.
People Acting in Community Together. Renters of Silicon Valley. August 2018.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. 2017 Homelessness Count Report.
The Campaign for College Opportunity. State of Higher Education in California. September 2015.
University of California Global Food Initiative. Food and Housing Security at the University of California. December 2017.
Crutchfield, Rashida and Maguire, Jennifer. CSU Basic Needs Initiative. Study of Students Basic Needs. January 2018.
UCLA Asian American Studies Center. “A Narrative Report of the Asian American Population and Asset Building Trends in California.” May 2013.