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Gov. Newsom Says Work Continues On Possible Rent Compromise

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, discusses the homeless problem facing California after a meeting with the mayors of some of the state's largest cities held at the Governor's office, Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he’s continuing to work with state lawmakers on what he hopes will be a deal to stabilize California’s rising rents.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes with a number of the key parties and participants to see if there is a — forgive the vernacular — a deal on this that could be a constructive first step,” Newsom told reporters after hosting a roundtable on affordable housing in Sacramento. “I’m not wedded to any specific proposal right now.”

Voters last fall rejected Proposition 10, which would have allowed cities to greatly expand rent control by repealing the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. The state’s rental housing law prevents cities from putting a cap on rents for apartments built since 1995. It exempts condos and single-family homes from any rent control.

Apartment associations and real estate groups contributed tens of millions of dollars to defeat the initiative last year, saying it would stymie new construction and make the state’s affordable housing crisis worse.

Newsom did not support Prop 10, but said in his State of the State address in January that he wants to find a compromise to stabilize rents without putting small landlords out of business.

“The pressures on vulnerable renters didn’t go away after the election. We need new rules to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent evictions, without putting small landlords out of business,” Newsom said in the speech. “Here is my promise to you, get me a good package on rent stability this year and I will sign it.”

At Tuesday's roundtable Newsom met with advocates for affordable housing and those struggling to keep up with their rents.

Megan Colbert, a single-mother, told Newsom she works full-time while going to school but can barely afford her subsidized apartment in West Sacramento.

“I’m formerly homeless and I know the struggles and the stresses wondering what’s going to happen to me and my son,” she said.

Newsom's budget calls for spending $2 billion on statewide housing initiatives. Those vary from a fivefold increase in the state’s affordable housing tax credit to loans to help middle-income residents buy homes.

Also at Tuesday’s event, Tyrone Roderick Williams, director of development for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency, said he’s confident that Newsom will help boost affordable housing in the Capital and beyond.

“As an agency, we are well-equipped to take on the challenge," Williams said. "As developers in the city, they're well-equipped to build housing. Our most challenging effort is funding.”

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