Housing is one of the basic necessities of life, yet too many households can no longer afford adequate shelter.
Rents have soared due to real estate speculation. One out of five renters pay more than fifty percent of their income for housing. Fewer than one in ten renters can afford to buy a median-priced house in the area where they live. In an era of deregulation, tenants have had few legal protections and those that exist have begun to be eroded. Rent control and eviction protection for tenants does not exist in most jurisdictions, and where it does, it is usually inadequate and under attack. Landlords who, in violation of housing code requirements, fail to keep their property in habitable condition are tolerated, or at most given slaps on the wrist. Housing discrimination remains rampant against people of color, immigrants, disabled, single people, gays and lesbians, and families with children.
It is conservatively estimated that one million people are homeless. The twenty year decline in real wages for workers is also a major contribution to the current crisis in housing availability and affordability. In addition, certain laws have also contributed to the problems of housing supply and cost, and are in some cases consciously used to exclude households with lower incomes from higher income communities. Areas of local law that should be revisited include: ordinances that prohibit a shift toward co-housing; land use plans that provide excessive amounts of land for industrial and commercial use; and inflexible building codes that prevent alternative (often less expensive) construction approaches that still meet health and safety requirements.
The Green Party recognizes housing as a human right, and will work toward eliminating economic and other forms of discrimination in the construction and use of housing through:
Protect tenants with rent control laws, including vacancy control. Repeal California's Costa-Hawkins bill which outlawed vacancy control regulations.
Prevent evictions without just cause. Restrict owner move-in evictions of long-term tenants, the elderly and disabled persons.
Crack down on landlords who refuse to maintain their properties in habitable condition, or who engage in illegal evictions, with hefty fines and, in extreme cases, jail terms.
Increase affordable housing supply
Enforce the law against illegal hotel conversions.
Use vacant housing - whether at closed military bases, or housing being kept off the market by speculators or landlords delinquent in taxes - to shelter the homeless.
Build human-scale, low income housing (as does Habitat for Humanity). Create a rent subsidy program for the poor.
Pursue more efficient use of our existing housing supply, such as home-sharing and cooperative conversions of existing dwellings.
Fair housing laws
Strengthen and enforce fair housing laws against discrimination based on race, sex, familial status (children), marital status, disability, and sexual orientation.
Fully fund the Fair Employment and Housing Commission and provide generous government funding to non-profit organizations engaged in fair housing monitoring and enforcement.
Insist that architectural review boards and planning commissions represent the concerns of citizens, rather than the concerns of economic segments of the community.
Reform of Zoning and Building Codes
Remove restrictions on converting large, single family homes to multi-family use. Families of today are smaller and there are more single-parent households.
Allow industrial and commercial developers to provide housing instead of parking spaces in new developments, and permit housing development in existing industrial and commercial zones.
Reform zoning, occupancy and building ordinances so that residential needs can exist in balance with commercial and industrial needs, and so that alternative approaches are encouraged rather than restricted.
Eliminate requirements for off-street parking and street dedication, which forces the housing sector to subsidize the automobile industry.
Promote tax and regulatory structures favoring city infrastructure. Promote development that encourages urban density - with green spaces - and discourages urban sprawl.
Base building codes on performance requirements rather than specific physical models.