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Housing

Will L.A. Voters Choose to Tax All Property Sales Over $5 Million to Fund Affordable Housing This Fall?

For sale sign in front of house in East Hollywood (Lexis-Olivier Ray, April 2022).

The median rent in Los Angeles is $3,183, and with the city planning to end COVID-19 protections against evictions and rent hikes, there appears to be no relief for these steep fees in sight. The situation makes a ballot measure like United to House L.A. all the more significant, especially to those who are passionate about tenant rights and ending homelessness. 

The measure will be on the November ballot and suddenly picked up new momentum this past Tuesday after comedian and television host Adam Conover tweeted a viral thread in which he broke it all down:

“And here's the best part, the program would be overseen by a Citizens Oversight Commission staffed with independent homelessness experts, NOT politicians. This will ensure the funds raised go not to the loudest voices but to the communities who need it the most.” 

Getting both the 61,000 signatures and awareness needed to put the measure on the November ballot took an organized effort from a coalition of more than 200 of the city’s most active and respected organizations, including A.C.L.U. SoCal, Koreatown for All, People’s City Council, and Inclusive Action for the City. U.L.A.’s website proudly boasts, “We are homelessness and housing experts—not politicians.”

The full measure is available to read here, but it is summarized into four key directives. 

—This one-time tax would raise an estimated $900 million a year on property sales of $5 million or more towards efforts to reduce homelessness, make housing more affordable, and protect low-income seniors from losing their homes.

—ULA would invest in innovative solutions, creating housing faster and at a lower cost than what has been done before.

—It would immediately provide housing for people living on the streets, send emergency assistance to low-income seniors in danger of becoming homeless, and provide legal aid to renters.

—ULA would be implemented with strong citizen oversight from independent homelessness experts who know what works—not politicians.

The difference in this measure, compared to laws already in place for low-income housing, like measures H and HHH, is that ULA would only tax real estate that sells for more than $5 million in the City of L.A., effectively taxing the rich with up to a four-to five-and-a-half percent hike. 

LAist first reported on this measure in May when it was still gathering signatures. In their article, “proponents say that this new tax can build 26,000 new homes over a 10-year period and could help stem the flow of Angelenos into homelessness through assistance to vulnerable tenants and funding to enforce existing renter protections.”

The biggest critics against ULA are an organization based in Sherman Oaks called “Angelenos Against Higher Property Taxes,” who argue that ULA would “be the largest property tax increase in L.A. history—a whopping 34% hike.” However, nowhere on their site do they disclose that it would only affect sales of property over $5 million. The website also does not list any other organizations as part of their coalition, despite having a “Join our Coalition” section.

As Connover follows up in his tweet thread, Measure ULA has a very “real shot” at passing, writing: “Earlier progressive housing measures like 20 and 21 failed state-wide but got YES margins within the City of L.A. Since Measure ULA is a City measure, this means it could pass—but only if WE push it over the top!”

With every L.A. resident affected by the homelessness crisis on our streets, could ULA be the measure we need? And will it be the one we, as a city, finally pass?

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