OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the creation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the convening of a series of tenant roundtables across the state. Attorney General Bonta also launched a Housing Portal on DOJ’s website with resources and information for California homeowners and tenants.
Together, the Housing Strike Force, roundtables, and Housing Portal are part of DOJ’s new effort to advance housing access, affordability, and equity in California. DOJ’s Housing Strike Force will draw on the expertise of attorneys from the Land Use and Conservation Section, the Consumer Protection Section, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, and the Environment Section’s Bureau of Environmental Justice to address the housing crisis and to alleviate its effects.
“California is facing a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportion,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Every day, millions of Californians worry about keeping a roof over their head, and there are too many across this state who lack housing altogether. Our Housing Strike Force, along with the tenant roundtables and Housing Portal, will allow DOJ to ramp up our efforts to tackle this crisis and advance housing access, affordability, and equity across California. This is a top priority and a fight we won’t back down from. As Attorney General, I am committed to using all the tools my office has available to advance Californians’ fundamental right to housing.”
“California has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address its housing crisis thanks to the historic $22 billion housing and homelessness investments in this year’s budget. But it’ll only work if local governments do their part to zone and permit new housing,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “The Attorney General’s emphasis on holding cities and counties accountable for fair housing, equity and housing production is an important component to the state’s efforts to tackle the affordability crisis and create greater opportunities for all Californians to have an affordable place to call home.”
“Passing strong housing laws is only the first step. To tackle our severe housing shortage, those laws must be consistently and vigorously enforced,” said California State Senator Scott Wiener, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee. “I applaud Attorney General Bonta’s commitment to strong enforcement of California’s housing laws.”
Over the last four decades, housing needs have significantly outpaced housing production in California. Housing costs have skyrocketed, making it harder for Californians to keep a roof over their heads. Despite significant effort, California continues to host a disproportionate share of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, with an estimated 150,000 Californians sleeping in shelters, in their cars, or on the street. California’s 17 million renters spend a significant portion of their paychecks on rent, with an estimated 700,000 Californians at risk of eviction. High home purchase costs — the median price of a single-family home in California is more than $800,000 — have led to the lowest homeownership rates since the 1940s. Due to decades of systemic racism, these challenges have continuously and disproportionately impacted communities of color. For example, almost half of Black households in California spend more than 30% of their income on housing, compared with only a third of white households.
DOJ’s Housing Strike Force will take an innovative and intersectional approach to addressing the housing crisis, focusing on tenant protections, housing availability and environmental sustainability, housing affordability, and equitable and fair housing opportunity for tenants and owners. Specifically, the Strike Force will work to address the shortage and affordability crisis by:
- Enforcing state housing and development laws in the Attorney General’s independent capacity and on behalf of DOJ’s client agencies. Earlier this year, the Governor signed AB 215 enhancing the Attorney General’s concurrent role in enforcing state housing laws;
- Enforcing tenant rights, mortgage servicing, and other consumer protection laws;
- Issuing consumer alerts advising tenants and homeowners on their protections under state and federal law;
- Issuing guidance letters to local governments on state housing laws;
- Defending state housing and tenant protection laws from legal challenges; and
- Advocating with the state legislature, federal agencies, and other state agencies to advance a right to housing.
The Attorney General’s tenant roundtables and Housing Portal will also inform and serve as a repository for the Housing Strike Force’s priorities and work. In the coming months, Attorney General Bonta will travel across the state to meet with tenant groups and identify opportunities for the Housing Strike Force to leverage the tools of the Office of the Attorney General to protect California’s tenants. The Housing Portal, launched today, will give Californians the tools they need to avail themselves of protections under state and federal law. As the Housing Strike Force mobilizes, the Portal will also be updated to include information on the Housing Strike Force’s priorities, enforcement efforts, and roadmaps for citizen involvement. The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to [email protected]. Information on legal aid in your area is available at https://lawhelpca.org.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to advancing housing access, affordability, and equity. Following the expiration of the statewide eviction moratorium on October 1, Attorney General Bonta issued a consumer alert, and accompanying video, reminding California’s tenants and homeowners of their rights and protections under California law. The Attorney General also successfully defended the constitutionality and statewide applicability of the California Housing Accountability Act (HAA). The HAA protects housing availability and affordability by imposing limits on the ability of cities to reject proposals for housing developments that otherwise satisfy general plan and zoning requirements. Attorney General Bonta supported Assemblymember David Chiu’s AB 215, which solidifies the commitment to enforce state laws designed to address the housing shortage crisis.