Sacramento’s Board of Supervisors thankfully failed to pass an emergency ordinance banning no-fault evictions for the rest of the year. The proposed ban was meant to help residents such as dozens of Arden area tenants who fear they are being kicked out before Thanksgiving.
But much like all other housing or zoning regulations in place across the state of California, a ban on no-fault evictions, even if temporary, wouldn’t be compassionate. Far from it. Instead, as the local and state government becomes more greatly involved in the housing business, whether by restricting new buildings or by passing rent control, the demand for housing grows and so does the cost to the resident — regardless of his socioeconomic status.
In the end, it is precisely because of these regulations, which are falsely presented as protections, that the poor suffer the most.
A report from a local CBS affiliate in California highlights the struggle of one of these residents, Debbie Stollery.
The 68-year-old woman was one of the dozens of people served with no-fault eviction notices in the same apartment complex. Now, she fears what the future has in store for her.
“I’ve never been homeless and I’m scared,” Stollery told the CBS reporters. “I have to be out the day before Thanksgiving.”
Explaining she can’t afford to live as others in California do, Stollery said she feels like a failure. But all the residents of the 58-unit complex are being forced out, as the current owner is selling the property ahead of the new statewide rent control law going into effect on January 1st. As part of the building’s sale terms, the current owner must terminate tenant leases before 2020. And as CBS reported, this apartment complex isn’t the only one taking this step.
Now, the elderly resident may have to live in her car — if she wants to stay in Sacramento.
In order to help people like Stollery, city officials are looking into keeping landlords from resorting to no-fault evictions. But trying to remedy the consequences of bad housing policy with yet another bad policy isn’t the most compassionate approach.
While it’s heartbreaking to see so many low- and middle-income residents lose their homes in California, the reality is that major urban centers in the Golden State have become extremely expensive. On the other hand, housing in the Midwest states remains affordable, even to those living on very modest means. With a country as large and as diverse as America, it is insanity to believe that people have a magical right to live wherever they want — especially if that place is California, and if the residents in question simply can’t afford to pay what local landlords are charging.
For people like Stollery, it would have been compassionate if the California housing market had never been tampered with. Then perhaps, there would currently be more affordable options, even if the overall trend remained the same, and prices continued to go up, due to the high demand.
Unfortunately, lawmakers don’t miss an opportunity to act as if they are doing the right thing — even if that means actually hurting the poorest among us.