$1 Billion-Per-Year AIDS Foundation Funds Rent Control Initiative Proposition 10

Proposition 10 rally (Yes on 10 / Twitter)
Yes on 10 / Twitter
CHRISS W. STREET
Newport Beach, CA

The Proposition 10 campaign to extend rent control is primarily being funded by the not-for-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which generates $1 billion in annual revenue.

Ballotopia reported that despite the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) being a tax exempt 501(c)(3) with over $1 billion in revenue, it provided $20.7 million of the $22.7 million in funding, or about 91 percent, to the “Yes on Prop 10” campaign, the “Local Rent Control Initiative.”

Prop 10 would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, passed by the California Legislature in 1995, to limit the future use of rent control in California by counties and cities to regulate rents that landlords can charge rental tenants. The bipartisan bill, AB 1164 passed 45-18 in the Assembly and 24-11 in the Senate after complaints that rent control in Santa Monica and Berkeley had killed the construction of new rental housing.

Although a recent bill to repeal the Costa-Hawkins bill was endorsed by the California Democratic Party’s executive committee and introduced in the state legislature, it could not win enough Democrat support in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee to move to a floor vote.

There is no mention of lobbying or funding state initiative drives in the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Audited Financial Statement for 2017, but it clearly states that AHF was exempt from federal and state taxation under IRS Section 501(c)(3). AHF has over $1 billion in pharmacy revenue, including federal payments from Medicaid and Medicare.

The opposition to Prop 10 is primarily being led by multi-family housing real estate interests that contributed at least $55.6 million. The largest contributions include $5 million from the California Association of Realtors; $4,999,99.95 from the Blackstone Property Partners; and $4,761,840 from Michael K. Hayde & Western National Group.

The Apartment Association of Los Angeles highlight that AHF is a tax-exempt organization with a stated mission to provide “hospice and health care services to AIDS, HIV, and other patients, and engaging in related educational activities.” AHS is also one of America’s largest recipients of Medicare funding, receiving $42 million in 2016.

But rather than using government subsidies to help underserved and needy patients, AALA claims that AHS founder Michael Weinstein spends taxpayer money on his own pet political projects. One recent project was a ballot initiative to require condoms in pornography, for example.

Weinstein is quoted by Ballotopia as saying that rent control is a matter of social justice: “[W]e are seeing mass displacement … and we feel like shelter is the most basic right and people are being deprived of that and we don’t believe that the marketplace can handle providing shelter to everyone who needs it.”

The Public Policy Institute of California’s mid-September poll found Prop 10 behind by 12 points, 36 percent for versus 48 percent against. But the New York Times reports that Weinstein intends to fund another rent control measure if Proposition 10 fails. He added, “I’m kind of like gum on your shoe.”

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