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California lawmakers vow to protect residents from rent gouging, calling it a housing emergency


Bay Area Renter Sasha Powell stood before lawmakers holding up a letter from her landlord Thursday.

“I want to read from this. Effective May 1 2019, my rent will be $1,700 instead of $1,040. Effective July 1, my rent will be $2,300 instead of $1,700. And effective Sept. 1, my rent will be $2,500 instead of $2,300. I’ve lived in my building for 16 years,” Powell says.

Her rent increase is an example of what millions of renters have experienced in the last decade across California, and lawmakers are considering this a housing emergency.

“We know that we need to use every tool that we have in the toolbox, that’s what you do in an emergency, that’s what we do in a crisis, we need to keep Californians in their homes,” says Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland.

Lawmakers announced Thursday a set of bills to protect renters with measures that would require landlords to prove just cause before evicting a tenant and prohibit rent gouging.

“It would protect 15 million Californians from large rent increases without diminishing a property owner’s ability to make a fair return on investment,” says Assemblymember David Chiu of San Francisco.

The proposals also include reforming current rent control laws and creating a statewide rent registry to collect data.

“Tracking evictions, tracking rental increase so that we can see what is happening in what communities and then create evidence based public policy to address those concerns,” says Assemblymember Buffy Wicks of Oakland.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised if lawmakers brought him a good package of laws on rent stability, he would sign it, and lawmakers say they’re confident in their proposals.

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