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California Business Roundtable and Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles Utilize Deceptive Tactics to Oppose Rent Control

LA POLITICS

HOUSING - A Housing Is A Human Right investigation has found that the California Business Roundtable and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles are using a shell game to finance their effort to kill the expansion of rent control in California. The two lobbying groups are utilizing the same slick technique as the California Apartment Association and several of the largest corporate landlords in the country. They’re all working to stop the Justice for Renters Act, the November ballot measure sponsored by Housing Is A Human Right and its parent organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

This year, a broad coalition of social justice organizations, housing justice groups, labor unions, and civic leaders are aiming to pass the Justice for Renters Act, a statewide initiative that expands rent control in California. It comes at a time when the housing affordability and homelessness crises are only worsening – CalMatters and Capital & Main recently reported that sky-high rents are turning seniors into the fastest growing group of unhoused residents in California. 

Unconcerned, Big Real Estate is resorting to stealth tactics to stop the Justice for Renters Act – and to maintain the ability to charge higher and higher rents, regardless of the life-altering consequences to middle- and working-class Californians.

In February, Housing Is A Human Right exclusively reported that the California Apartment Association was using the California Apartment Association Issues Committee to raise campaign contributions from major landlords, including Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities. The CAA Issues Committee then sent real estate cash to Californians for Responsible Housing sponsored by the California Apartment Association, a No on Justice for Renters Committee. 

The CAA Issues Committee is also funding Protect Patients Now, a highly controversial ballot measure that aims to stop AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s work on rent control and other housing issues. If successful, corporations in other industries may use the same strategy to end ballot measure efforts by labor unions and advocacy groups.

The California Business Roundtable and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles are now carrying out their own shell game to fund a No on Justice for Renters committee called Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. 

Major landlords and property managers have contributed $1.8 million to the California Business Roundtable PAC, according to state filings. The PAC then sends real estate cash to Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. So far, the Business Roundtable PAC has delivered $250,000 to that No on Justice for Renters committee.

Contributors to the Business Roundtable PAC include such major landlords and property management companies as Blackstone Group, H.G. Fenton Property Company, and Western National Group Chairman Michael K. Hayde (pictured above).

Landlords and property managers are also contributing campaign cash to the Issues PAC of Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, according to state filings. The PAC delivers real estate money to Californians to Protect Affordable Housing, too. So far, the Issues PAC of AAGLA has shelled out $170,000 to that No on Justice for Renters committee.

Moss & Company President Chris Gray is the biggest contributor to the Issues PAC of AAGLA, delivering $46,1000.

Why is the real estate industry carrying out these shell games? Primarily, landlords want to avoid scrutiny from the public and reporters as well as any political scandal that could hurt their efforts to stop the Justice for Renters Act.

That’s especially true for corporate landlords and property management companies that are mired in controversy. Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities, for example, are all embroiled in the ongoing RealPage Scandal, which involves a cartel of corporate landlords working together, through a RealPage software program, to wildly inflate rents. 

RealPage and major landlords are now facing more than 20 lawsuits by tenants, at least one federal investigation, and lawsuits by Arizona District Attorney General Kris Mayes and Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb

It also doesn’t look good for corporate landlords to be funding Protect Patients Now sponsored by the California Apartment Association, pushing forward an effort to silence AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a global nonprofit that has saved millions of lives around the world and serves nearly two million patients in such countries as South Africa, Mexico, and India.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, however, has no intention of backing down. With excessive, unfair rents fueling the housing affordability and homelessness crises, seniors, teachers, families, college students, and other Californians are facing a dire situation – and desperately need to be protected against predatory landlords. Lives hang in the balance.

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(Service Award: Association of Alternative Newsmedia, and a contributor to CityWatch.)