As I write this article, I am very torn about the entire concept of rent control and its effects on affordable housing for adjuncts. I understand the concept and need for affordable housing for everyone, not just adjuncts. I understand both the pros and cons of rent control, and who the beneficiaries of it are. One of the other underlying issues is “Does Rent Control Promote Equity for Adjuncts?”
I personally have been a student of rent control and its aftermath since the days of Tom Hayden and the Campaign for Economic Democracy in Santa Monica in the 1970s. Yes, my friends, that is before many of you were born. I have watched Rent Control spread across cities in Southern California and the rest of the country. I have watched the changes in the rental market as a result. Is rent control a failure or a success? It depends on who you are and where you live. If you are a beneficiary of rent control—in other words, if you live in a rent-controlled apartment—it probably works for you. You get protection from free market rents and have a government mandated limit on your annual rent increases. However, you probably live in an older building with fewer amenities, and it may not be very well cared for. If you aren’t one of the fortunate few to live in a rent-controlled unit, you aren’t one of the beneficiaries.
When rent control was passed in the various communities and municipalities across the county, there was another group of beneficiaries as well: small landlords, also know as mom and pop landlords. This group in my opinion consisted of people who had one or two units, possibly more. These people, prior to rent control, in many cases were unsure how much to raise the rent on their tenants and in many cases hadn’t raised the rents in years for one reason or another. For many of these people they could now raise the rent without the fear of asking too much! The government now was their friend; it was telling them how much they could increase the rent, and the tenants couldn’t make too big a stink, because the government had determined what a fair rent increase percentage was.
Does rent control affect the numbers of affordable housing units being built? I personally believe that it does not. The thing that I believe most affects the numbers of affordable housing units being built is “What is the definition of affordable housing?” When you can define it, please let me know! I personally cannot define it.
One thing I do know is that there is not enough affordable housing. I also know that rent control doesn’t promote equity for adjuncts as there is not enough affordable housing for everyone.
As I have looked at the issue of affordable housing for people working in education, I have found many solutions! These include attempts by the University of California to address the issues at some of their campuses by building staff housing. Some of the community colleges in the area also have college owned housing units for the faculty and staff.
I talk to the staff here and at other colleges in the area about where they live and how far they commute. It is scary!
How do we help remedy the problem here at Glendale College? There are a couple of ways! The first two that come to my mind are raising wages for all employees at the college so that they can afford to live in Glendale, along with making sure that all employee raises are in excess of the CPI for the Greater Los Angeles-Long Beach Area. The second is for the college to buy and build housing units that they can rent out to employees at below market rate, as well as to replace every unit that will be removed from the rental market by the expansion of the parking facilities at the Garfield Campus. This may have to be done through the college foundation as it is done at some of the Cal State Schools.
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