LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Yes on 21 movement has uncovered the use of a little known political action committee by Blackstone Group, billionaire landlord Geoffrey Palmer, and real estate bigwig Michael Hayde, among others, to feed money into the No on Prop 21 campaign, attempting to dodge the media spotlight. So far, the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC, a kind of shell committee for corporate landlords, has delivered $1.5 million to No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing.
California’s Proposition 21 is the November ballot measure that allows communities to put limits on unfair, sky-high rent increases. The initiative is supported by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, labor and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and former United Nations special rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha, among many others. Middle- and working-class Californians have been getting slammed for years by the housing affordability crisis -- and renters are struggling even more to make ends meet because of the financial devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite these catastrophic times of massive unemployment, an ongoing public health emergency, and worsening housing affordability and homelessness crises, corporate landlords such as Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities are fighting tooth and nail to keep their power to charge excessive rents. These giants and other corporate landlords have shelled out tens of millions to stop Proposition 21.
Blackstone Group, led by billionaire Stephen Schwarzman; billionaire Geoffrey Palmer; and Michael Hayde, CEO of Western National Group, now join that multi-million-dollar push to protect their gigantic profits -- made off the backs of middle- and working-class renters.
In the 2010s, corporate landlords made a killing.
“All-in-all,” Zillow reported in December 2019, “U.S. renters paid roughly $4.5 trillion in rent during the 2010s, capped off with $512 billion in 2019 alone.”
In 2019, San Francisco renters shelled out $16.4 billion, according to Zillow. In San Diego, renters forked over $10.3 billion. In Los Angeles, renters spent a staggering $39.1 billion in 2019.
So far, the California Business Roundtable Issues PAC has collected $21.5 million from real estate companies since January 2019, according to state filings. Blackstone Group delivered nearly a third of that -- $7 million in contributions -- in June 2020. Michael Hyde has shelled out $4.5 million and Palmer has forked over a little more than $2 million, according to state filings.
Those totals from Blackstone Group, Hayde, and Palmer are nearly identical to what they contributed to the No on Prop 10 campaign in 2018. Proposition 10 also attempted to put limits on excessive rent increases. Blackstone and its subsidiary Invitation Homes gave $7.4 million to stop Prop 10; Hayde delivered $4.7 million; and Palmer gave $2 million.
On August 14, California Business Roundtable Issues PAC handed over a check of $1.5 million to No on Prop 21: Californians to Protect Affordable Housing. Housing activists expect the PAC to deliver more of Big Real Estate’s millions to the No on Prop 21 campaign in the coming weeks. It’s the kind of backroom way of handling business that real estate companies are known for -- and too often at the expense of hard-working Californians.
Proposition 21 is sponsored by Yes on 21 – Renters and Homeowners United to Keep Families in Their Homes, Sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, with significant funding by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. To learn more, visit Yes on 21 and https://www.housinghumanright.org/.