NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) -- Families in one South Bay city got one step closer to relief from skyrocketing rent Thursday as a group turned in signatures supporting a measure that could make its way to the November ballot.
The National City Families for Fair Rent coalition has collected 3,500 signatures from registered voters in favor of implementing a program to stabilize rent.
The initiative is called the National City Rent Control and Community Stabilization Ordinance.
In order to get the measure on the November ballot, the coalition needs the signatures of 2,300 registered National City voters.
Researchers say the measure is important because National City is one of the last safe havens for families struggling to pay rent.
"It is one of the last places, sort of the last refuge for families struggling to get by have been able to afford to rent," said Dr. Peter Brownell,Research Director at Center on Policy Initiatives.
The city council can now take one of three actions. Enact it without sending it to the ballot, send it to the ballot or request a report from city staff.
If a report is requested, the council will have to reconvene and take one of the first two options within 30 days.
Paying a Hefty Price
According to the coalition, more than 60 percent of households in National City spend at least 30 percent of their income on rent.
A level at which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says makes it difficult for families to afford other necessities.
The coalition added that the share of renters in the city who spend at least half of their income on rent has risen to 31 percent as the statewide rental affordability crisis continues to worsen.
One renter struggling to keep up with the dizzying rise in rent says her rent was raised $400 from one month to the next. "I really really had a nervous breakdown. I was stressed out all month. While I have a decent salary I'm a single mother so I have to make cuts on budget on household," said Adriana Huerta.
Other Proposals Around the County
National City residents are not the only ones fighting for rent control measures. A group of San Diegans fighting for rent control brought their battle to San Diego city leaders in April.
The group, called San Diego Tenants United, is calling for city leaders to pass a rent control ordinance to curb the cost of living.
In a letter to the San Diego Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, the group asked that an ordinance and amendment be added to San Diego’s Just Cause Eviction ordinance.
The measure would prohibit landlords from increasing rents or displacing families.
"This can make real, effective changes that can truly fight displacement and gentrification," the letter reads in part. "All the cities across California who have passed rent control have done so because they know that it's a crucial part of the solution to our housing crisis."
Those opposed to rent control argue that landlords are forced to raise rent to cover ever-increasing costs including wages, goods and utilities.
The Price of Rent Control
If ordinances in San Diego and National City were passed, they wouldn’t be the first in California. Cities like San Francisco and Berkley have also passed similar ordinances.
Following the implementation of the ordinance in San Francisco, landlords reportedly played dirty to get residents out so they could raise rent.
According to ABC News, one San Francisco landlord in 2014 told tenants they must make at least $100,000 per year and have a FICO score of at least 725.
After a local blog got ahold of the note sent to tenants, the landlord rescinded the requirements and sent out a new note.
Tens of Thousands leave San Diego, California
Numbers from 2017 gave a glimpse of the toll rising rent could be having on the state of California and San Diego County.
According to the latest census numbers, in the year-span ending in July of 2017, adding up all the people moving into and out of California translates to a net loss of 138,000 people.
San Diego County also took a hit in 2017 with a net loss of nearly 16,000 people. The number nearly doubled from the previous year’s net loss of only 8,300 people.
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, most of those people were lower income with some being middle income.
Affordable Housing Options
San Diego County reserves housing units for affordable housing and National City has several options.
The National City developer programs provide funding for the development of affordable housing.
For more information, click here. The map below shows where affordable housing units are located in National City.