The California fight reflects a renters’ rights movement that is bubbling up in churches and community centers across the country, a semi-coordinated stand of low-income tenants against the gentrifying American city.
By Conor Dougherty; Lauren Hepler contributed reporting in Oakland + Spanish translation
From pulpits across Los Angeles, Pastor Kelvin Sauls has spent the past few months delivering sermons on the spiritual benefits of fasting. The food in the sermon is rent, and landlords need less of it. “My role is to bring a moral perspective to what we are dealing with around the housing crisis,” Pastor Sauls explained.
In addition to a Sunday lesson, this is an Election Day pitch. Pastor Sauls is part of the campaign for Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that would loosen state restraints on local rent control laws. The effort has stoked a battle that has already consumed close to $60 million in political spending, a sizable figure even in a state known for heavily funded campaigns.