Housing advocates are looking for money to repeal California’s law.

To keep Black families out of white areas, California legislators are pushing to repeal the only law in the country that allows voters to reject public housing projects, a clause that was introduced to the state constitution in 1950.

For its racist roots and because it makes it far more difficult to develop affordable housing in a state where a single-family home’s typical price is nearly $800,000, almost everyone in the Capitol agrees that the clause should be removed.



Because of a lack of financial support, this latest attempt to abolish the Affordable Care Act has run into a snag. As it is, no one is willing to pay for a change in the California Constitution.


While the state legislature has the power to enact and repeal legislation, it cannot alter the state constitution without the consent of the people. A statewide campaign to persuade people to vote in favor of a measure should accompany every ballot initiative.

Because California has some of the most costly media markets in the country, these campaigns can cost $20 million or more.


Democrats Scott Wiener and Ben Allen, both of San Francisco, said the repeal isn’t the type of ballot item that immediately attracts money. “The polling numbers are not quite certain. It’s a campaign that can be won. We have what it takes to prevail. It’s possible, but it’ll take a lot of money.

Proposed repeal of the law passed the state Senate 37-0 earlier this year, so there is no problem with legislative support. As far as public support goes, it’s another story entirely, and one that comes with significant risk.


To ensure that public institutions can take race into account when admitting students, proponents of racial justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd raised more than $22 million in 2020. Despite spending only $1.7 million, opponents were unable to overturn a “no” vote from 57% of registered voters.


A campaign’s supporters may not be able to gather enough support to attempt again for years after it has failed. Nearly three decades ago, in 1993, advocates attempted to overturn California’s affordable housing law but failed with only 40% of the vote.


Because 2020 is a presidential election year, supporters planned to put the idea on this year’s ballot, believing it would have a higher chance of passing. As a result, Wiener added, the group decided to call it a day on the campaign.


To put it on the ballot this year or wait until 2024, legislators must make a decision by June 30.


After federal legislation outlawing segregation in public housing complexes in 1949, California’s statute mandating voter approval of publicly funded affordable housing projects followed suit. Eureka’s local housing authority sought federal funding in 1950 to create low-income homes 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco.


A few residents tried to put a halt to the project, but city leaders stood firm. A constitutional amendment was proposed to ensure that public funds were used only for low-income housing projects if they were approved by a majority of the population. The effort was funded by the California Real Estate Association and was successful.


The only state that has this rule in California, and it only applies to public support for affordable housing, which is used by persons of color at a much higher rate than the general population.


As a result of its racial and socioeconomic bias, “Wiener was quoted as saying. Is this in our genuine constitution? “I think it’s shocking to a lot of people”


A policy advocate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty says the provision has had a significant impact on the state’s growth because California missed out on a large portion of the federal government’s public housing spending in 1950s and 1960s.


Taking public housing off the menu has “locked our hands in investigating solutions to the affordable housing dilemma and homelessness catastrophe in a way,” Castillo added.


In some cases, it is possible to get around the rules of the game. “Low-rent housing project” now refers to any development with more than 49 percent of its units reserved for low-income residents. A vote isn’t necessary if it’s less than that.


It is common for city officials in progressive cities to advocate for extensive autonomy to implement affordable housing projects throughout the city. On the 2020 ballot, residents of San Francisco approved the construction of 10,000 low-income housing units. However, that kind of support isn’t universal.


The California Association of Realtors, formerly known as the California Real Estate Association, is a possible source of funding for the repeal effort. In 1950, the group played a major factor in passing the law. According to the association’s head lobbyist, Sanjay Wagle, it has maintained its support for repeal for decades.


It is up to Wagle’s organization to help repeal the statute, he said. That’s why he stated it couldn’t do it on its own. The majority of people enjoy having a voice in what’s built near their properties.

He claimed that research shows that people’s opinions can shift if they learn more about the topic, but he added that this would necessitate a sophisticated and costly effort.


Voting on any project is something that most people think is a good thing to do. Then it will be gone forever.’ According to the speaker, “They aren’t thinking about the larger ramifications.” In order to overcome that, you’ll have to get down and dirty, which is tough and/or highly expensive.”



Wagle believes a successful campaign would require the support of several groups, which he believes would be easy to locate because “there is a lot of money on the progressive side in California.” Wagle said.


However, that hasn’t yet occurred. The financing will come eventually, according to Wiener, so he wants to put it on the ballot as soon as possible.


“There are many groups interested in participating, “he asserted. “In my opinion, they can do this once they have faith in the reality of the situation.

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