Around 2.4 million renters in California stand to benefit from new legislation co-authored by assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. That’s how Senate Bill 248 is being touted today after its unveiling by Contra Costa state senator Steve Glazer, San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Quirk-Silva and others. The legislation counts 28 additional co-authors, including state senator Tom Umberg, and proposes the first renter’s credit increase in 40 years.
“It is no secret that our state is facing a homelessness epidemic, and a housing shortage,” said Quirk-Silva in a press release. “Hard working families are ending up on our streets because they cannot afford to pay the exorbitant cost of rent in our state. Students in Orange County, in particular, are commuting more than an hour, because their rent is too high. We must do more, and this bill is the solution.”
In November, voters had an opportunity to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rentral Housing Act that exempts properties occupied after February 1, 1995 from local rent control laws. Proposition 10 hoped to do away with such protections for landlords but the ballot initiative took a beating at the polls.
I’m a principal coauthor of SB 248, to provide tax credit to renters. I was joined by my fellow colleagues to discuss this important measure at today’s press conference, and provide some relief to Orange County families. #RentersDeserveRelief#SB248, #RentersCredit, #TaxCredit pic.twitter.com/ISTjZp9S4x
— Sharon Quirk-Silva (@QuirkSilva65th) February 13, 2019
Short of strengthening rent control, what does Quirk-Silva’s proposed legislation have to offer? Eligible families would receive a $434 refundable credit. Got no children, but the rent is still too damn high? SB 248 provides a refundable credit for $220. The last renter’s credit boost came in 1979 and they’ve stayed at $60 for single filers and $120 for joint filers, with or without children ever since. By contrast, the bill’s proponents say, rents have increased nearly three-fold.
Members of the University of California Student Association (UCSA) and Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) both expressed support for SB 248 today. “This legislation will be an important step in addressing our costs of living and will contribute to all students’ overall educational success,” said Vignesh Iyer, student basic needs officer for the UCSA. SB 248 also got an enthusiastic nod from the California Rental Housing Association (CalRHA).
“We applaud our state leaders focusing on practical solutions to ease our state’s housing crisis,” said Sid Lakireddy, CalRHA President. “We recognize that a multi-faceted approach is needed to create affordable and accessible housing and CalRHA is committed to working with policymakers to find ways to increase access to housing.”
The bill would adjust the renter’s credit for inflation in perpetuity, but grants the governor’s office the authority to suspend increases during severe economic downturns.
The average cost of rent in the state is $1,800 a month. According to the USC Casden Forecast Multifamily report for 2018, OC’s average rental rates are expected to rise 1.8 percent this year to $2,071 a month.
Story updated with Umber co-authorship and statement from CalRHA.