November 7, 2016

9 Local Ballot Measures to Watch on Tuesday

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UPDATE: All nine of the below ballot measures were approved by voters on November 8, 2016.  

There’s a lot at stake in tomorrow’s election — and not just our future leadership in Washington and state houses across the country. Voters in many cities and counties will also weigh in on crucial ballot measures, including several aimed at addressing homelessness and expanding the supply of affordable rental housing.

The election comes at a critical moment. In communities across the U.S., wages have stagnated for most workers while rents have steadily risen, resulting in an unprecedented affordable housing crisis. Today more than one in four families who rent their homes – 11.4 million households in total – are “housing insecure,” meaning they pay at least half of their monthly income on housing. Another 565,000 Americans are living either on the street or in homeless shelters, prompting some major cities like Seattle and San Francisco to declare a state of emergency on homelessness.

While the need has skyrocketed in recent years, federal resources for affordable housing programs have remained flat or even decreased, forcing state and local policymakers to find new sources of local funding. Below are nine examples of laudable affordable housing measures on tomorrow’s ballot, with a primary focus on Enterprise’s core markets:

  • Proposition HHH in Los Angeles, CA: Authorizes a $1.2 billion general obligation bond to finance the creation of 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing for the homeless, as well as emergency shelters and affordable housing for very low-income households.
  • Measure A in Santa Clara County, CA: Authorizes a $950 million general obligation bond to finance affordable housing programs in the county.
  • Measure KK in Oakland, CA: Authorizes a $600 million general obligation bond to finance infrastructure improvements and affordable housing programs in the city. 
  • Measure A1 in Alameda County, CA: Authorizes a $580 million general obligation bond to finance affordable housing programs across the county (which includes Oakland).
  • Measure 26-179 in Portland, OR: Authorizes a $258 million general obligation bond to finance affordable housing programs in the city.
  • Measure K in San Mateo County, CA: Extends the county’s current half-cent sales tax for an additional 20 years to fund a number of public services, including affordable housing programs (generates about $85 million annually).
  • Proposition 1 in Vancouver, WA: Authorizes a property tax levy that would generate up to $6 million annually for affordable housing programs in the city.
  • Question J in Baltimore, MD: Creates a citywide fund dedicated to affordable housing programs, but does not specify the size of the fund or a permanent source of funding.
  • Measure JJ in Oakland, CA: Establishes a number of renter protections in the city, such as requiring landlords to petition to raise rents above inflation, expanding the coverage of just cause eviction protections and strengthening the accountability and transparency of the local rent board.

Enterprise strongly supports each of the above ballot measures. Taken together, they could generate more than $3.6 billion in new local resources to address the affordable housing crisis.

For a more comprehensive list of housing-related proposals on ballots across the country, see this helpful summary from Trulia and Enterprise’s 2016 Ballot Measure Guide for Northern California.

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