California bill would increase tax credit for renters for first time in 40 years

“It’s a huge disparity,” Glazer said. “And yet everyone would agree that a landlord, given the equity advantage, is likely to be in a much better financial position than a tenant.”

The proposed change would bring the subsidy for renters to about $2.5 billion, according to 2019 Franchise Tax Board estimates provided by Glazer’s office.

“That, of course, means $2.5 billion in the pockets of our state’s most vulnerable people,” Glazer said.

Renters are more likely than homeowners to be low-income and are also more likely to be ‘cost-burdened’, meaning they spend more than a third of their income on housing.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the state is around $2,000, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. But real estate website Redfin put the estimate much higher for some of the state’s largest metros: $3,520 in San Francisco and Oakland, $3,394 in Los Angeles and $3,077 in San Diego.

Jackie Lowery, 55, pays around $3,000 a month for a four-bedroom house in Antioch, where she lives with her husband, adult son and girlfriend. She says the tax credit won’t go very far to cover her monthly rent – ​​but it would help.

“For too long tenants have always had the small end of the stick on everything,” she said. “It’s high time the tenants could get something back.”

This is Glazer’s third attempt to increase the tax credit for tenants. Despite strong bipartisan support, his previous attempts – in the 2019 and 2017 legislative sessions – failed in the Assembly.

But now, with eviction moratoriums and rent relief during the pandemic, Glazer said there’s more attention than ever to the plight of tenants in the state.

“So hopefully that will make a difference” to get the bill signed, he said.

Rob Wiener, executive director of the California Coalition for Rural Housing, which represents many low-income tenants, said his organization generally supports the bill.

But he said, “That’s not a lot of money at all. I mean, what can you get with $500?”