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Westlake Legal Group > affordable housing

Facebook Pledges $1 Billion for California Housing

Westlake Legal Group merlin_161084820_5a3218ef-f716-4690-805f-adbcc7018de2-facebookJumbo Facebook Pledges $1 Billion for California Housing San Francisco Bay Area (Calif) Google Inc Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet California Affordable Housing

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook said on Tuesday it would give $1 billion in a package of grants, loans and land toward easing California’s severe housing crunch by building an estimated 20,000 new housing units for middle- and lower-income households.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by technology companies to put their vast financial resources toward addressing a crisis that has afflicted tech centers including the Bay Area and Seattle. In June Google pledged $1 billion in a similar effort in the Bay Area, while Microsoft pledged $500 million toward affordable housing in Seattle in January.

Facebook said in a statement that the money would be used over the next decade. The package includes these elements: a $250 million partnership with the State of California for mixed-income housing on state land, $150 million for subsidized and supportive housing for homeless people in the Bay Area, $250 million worth of land near its headquarters in Menlo Park, and $25 million for teacher housing in the Silicon Valley, along with $350 million that the company said would be spent based on the effectiveness of the programs.

“Our investment will go toward creating up to 20,000 new housing units to help essential workers such as teachers, nurses and first responders live closer to the communities that rely on them,” the statement said.

The steep cost of housing in California, which politicians colloquially refer to as “the housing crisis,” has come to cloud nearly all aspects of life across the state. Despite having some of the highest wages in the nation, the state has an escalating homeless problem and the highest poverty rate — with about one in five households living below the federal poverty line — once the cost of housing is figured in. Three-hour commutes are expanding and there are stories of police officers sleeping in their cars. Homelessness has made the sight of sidewalk tents commonplace and led to vast and multiplying camps in abandoned lots and under freeways.

[Read more about the rise of homelessness in California, and the backlash.]

Still, the thing that California needs to do most — build lots of housing, in particular, affordable housing accessible to middle- and lower-income households in the service economy — has proved the most difficult. A bill to vastly expand housing production stalled in the State Senate this year over the protests of suburban communities that argued that a vast new building plan would lead to more traffic and ruin their quality of life. At the same time, construction prices have risen so high that building even no-frills subsidized units routinely costs $500,000, and often more in big cities.

Those kinds of numbers can make a mockery of any effort to solve the problem with money. Public officials and economists are blunt that Facebook’s package will take a decade or longer to have any material impact on a housing crunch that has been a generation in the making and heavily exacerbated by the local technology boom. In the latest annual counts of the homeless population, Los Angeles and several Bay Area cities saw their homeless populations increase significantly; Oakland’s grew close to 50 percent in just two years.

Exactly how much tech companies are responsible, and how much money they could or should put toward housing, is a matter of continuous debate. Last year, a contentious ballot initiative to fund homeless services in San Francisco split the local tech community. Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, became the measure’s biggest backer, leading to a public feud with Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter and the payments company Square, who was against it.

It is an oft-repeated talking point, in both San Francisco proper and the smaller cities like Palo Alto and Menlo Park that make up Silicon Valley, that tech companies should help build housing for their swelling ranks of employees. The governor, Gavin Newsom, has called on technology companies to contribute more and asked big corporations to use their substantial cash hoards to aid state housing efforts through instruments like low-interest loans.

Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday was made jointly with Mr. Newsom, who in the news release said: “State government cannot solve housing affordability alone, we need others to join Facebook in stepping up — progress requires partnership with the private sector and philanthropy to change the status quo and address the cost crisis our state is facing.”

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif3-articleLarge Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

An encampment in July in San Francisco. California is home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions

Westlake Legal Group 17dc-trumpcalif-facebookJumbo Trump and California See Same Homeless Problem, but Not the Same Solutions Wiener, Scott (1970- ) United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Newsom, Gavin Homeless Persons Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Carson, Benjamin S Affordable Housing

SAN FRANCISCO — Open-air heroin use. Sidewalks smeared in human feces. Blocklong homeless camps and people with severe mental illnesses wading through traffic in socks and hospital clothes.

You would be forgiven if you thought that those descriptions of California’s urban ills came from the mouth of the state’s biggest detractor, President Trump. After all, as the president jetted off to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a fund-raiser, he took a moment with reporters on Air Force One to fulminate against “people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings.”

But no, the worst descriptions of homelessness here frequently come from San Francisco’s archliberal politicians, who found themselves this week uncomfortably in agreement with the president they loathe. Mr. Trump’s sudden fixation with California’s homelessness problem is the rarest of cases where the state’s left wing actually recognizes a problem that the president feels strongly about.

Numerous protesters and politicians said they found Mr. Trump’s sudden interest in homelessness to be disingenuous and an example of the administration trying to score political points at the state’s expense instead of actually grappling with a humanitarian crisis that has become the driving political issue in state and local politics. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is, after all, putting into effect new regulations that could turn thousands of legal residents and citizens, including 55,000 children, out of public housing.

Still, the shared diagnosis of California’s housing problem left many policymakers here in the deeply uncomfortable position of conceding that the Trump administration has made some fair points.

That does not, however, mean they have any intention to cooperate with the administration on a solution, given the cauldron of mistrust and mutual distaste that exists between the president and large sections of California. For all of his talk of homelessness, Mr. Trump indicated to reporters that his sympathies rested with the taxpayers, rich immigrants and business leaders forced to wade through California’s urban detritus.

“In many cases, they came from other countries and they moved to Los Angeles or they moved to San Francisco because of the prestige of the city, and all of a sudden they have tents,” Mr. Trump exclaimed to reporters before disappearing behind the cloistered mansions of Silicon Valley. “Hundreds and hundreds of tents and people living at the entrance to their office building. And they want to leave.”

That did not endear the president to politicians already indisposed toward his overtures.

“Donald Trump is a slumlord who has spent his presidency pushing people into homelessness by taking away health care, food assistance and affordable housing funds,” said Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco. “He has no credibility on housing and homelessness.”

Few people like to acknowledge it, but there are things the Trump administration and California policymakers basically agree on. On Monday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a 40-page report on homelessness that was full of grisly and true statistics, such as California being home to one-twelfth of the country’s people but about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless. The report also blamed many of California’s own policies, like its strict building and environmental regulations, for creating it. That is a fact that the state’s legislative analyst’s office and politicians from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down routinely affirm.

On Tuesday morning, Ben Carson, the housing secretary, toured a three-story building with bleached-wood exterior that looked like the boxy condominiums built for young techies but was, in fact, a new public housing development across the street from the old barracks-style projects it replaced.

Mr. Carson noted to reporters that the run-down public housing towers of old had given government housing a bad reputation, that people should not stigmatize public housing, that landlords should not discriminate against Section 8 voucher holders and that rampant not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — sentiment has impeded affordable housing and higher-density apartment construction near transit.

“We do want to create societies where policemen and firemen and nurses can work and then live in the same community,” he said. “But one of the big problems, and nobody wants to talk about it, is NIMBYism. Not in my backyard. O.K. to do it over here, but don’t come anywhere near me.”

Those are roughly the same talking points that California Democrats have been using for years. Last year, Mr. Wiener introduced a bill that would essentially seize zoning control from localities and make it harder to stop higher-density projects near rail stations. California cities and the State Legislature have passed laws banning Section 8 discrimination. Mr. Newsom campaigned on a plan to build 3.5 million homes by 2025, but has acknowledged this is a far-off goal that has zero chance of happening without major regulatory reforms.

Yet as Mr. Carson spoke, protesters chanted, “Trump and Carson, it’s no lie, you’re the reason we sleep outside,” while a woman dressed as Super Girl lamented the presence of a Trump administration official in her city.

Some of this is pure partisanship. California has become a useful foil to Mr. Trump, and any sign of agreement with him could be seen as a political liability. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, has filed 59 lawsuits against the Trump administration, on issues like immigration, health care and environment policy. Its Legislature has tried to counter the president on environmental regulations, climate change and labor policy, and its governor is a determined member of the “resistance.”

For its part, the administration appears to delight in confronting California. On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to formally revoke California’s legal authority to set tailpipe pollution rules that are stricter than federal rules, dealing a serious blow to the “green economy” that the state was trying to foster with or without Washington.

In that light, local leaders have some real and reasonable doubts about how serious the president is about trying to solve homelessness.

And Mr. Trump’s own comments on homelessness did not offer much in the way of reassurance because he seemed less focused on the homeless than their apparent victims, like California’s police officers — “They’re actually sick; they’re going to the hospital” — and property owners: “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves.”

To be sure, the main mission for Mr. Trump’s two days in Northern and Southern California was the $15 million he expected to raise at private events behind gates in enclaves like Portola Valley and Beverly Hills.

The homeless were not holding that against him.

“He’s not my favorite,” said Alan Catoe, a homeless man asking drivers for money at an intersection on the edge of Palo Alto, a 20-minute drive from the luncheon for the president at the mansion of Scott McNealy, a Silicon Valley titan. “But I don’t mind that he’s here. There’s a lot of rich people who want to give him money.”

As the president’s limousine sped toward Tuesday’s fund-raiser near Stanford, several hundred protesters chanted, “Shame! Shame!”

“When during his whole presidency has he brought up ways to solve homelessness?” asked Toni Norton, a retired sale executive on hand for the protest. “He’s just coming here for the money.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160578480_4e66f72d-f9f7-4bf5-9f06-a8705d4ce907-articleLarge California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis State Legislatures Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Rent Control and Stabilization Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Politics and Government Newsom, Gavin Law and Legislation Landlords Homeless Persons gentrification California Affordable Housing

Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, was the bill’s author. “The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America,” he said.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like Boston, Miami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multibillion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars — is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

Supporters of rent control marched in Sacramento last year. After adjusting for housing costs, California has the highest state poverty rate.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis

California lawmakers approved a statewide rent cap on Wednesday covering millions of tenants, the biggest step yet in a surge of initiatives to address an affordable-housing crunch nationwide.

The bill limits annual rent increases to 5 percent after inflation and offers new barriers to eviction, providing a bit of housing security in a state with the nation’s highest housing prices and a swelling homeless population.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who has made tenant protection a priority in his first year in office, led negotiations to strengthen the legislation. He has said he would sign the bill, approved as part of a flurry of activity in the final week of the legislative session.

The measure, affecting an estimated eight million residents of rental homes and apartments, was heavily pushed by tenants’ groups. In an indication of how dire housing problems have become, it also garnered the support of the California Business Roundtable, representing leading employers, and was unopposed by the state’s biggest landlords’ group.

That dynamic reflected a momentous political swing. For a quarter-century, California law has sharply curbed the ability of localities to impose rent control. Now, the state itself has taken that step.

“The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America, where you’re seeing high home prices, high rents, evictions and homelessness that we’re all struggling to grapple with,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat who was the bill’s author. “Protecting tenants is a critical and obvious component of any strategy to address this.”

A greater share of households nationwide are renting than at any point in a half-century. But only four states — California, Maryland, New Jersey and New York — have localities with some type of rent control, along with the District of Columbia. A coalition of tenants’ organizations, propelled by rising housing costs and fears of displacement, is trying to change that.

In February, Oregon lawmakers became the first to pass statewide rent control, limiting increases to 7 percent annually plus inflation. New York, with Democrats newly in control of the State Legislature, strengthened rent regulations governing almost one million apartments in New York City.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160578480_4e66f72d-f9f7-4bf5-9f06-a8705d4ce907-articleLarge California Approves Statewide Rent Control to Ease Housing Crisis State Legislatures Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Rent Control and Stabilization Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Politics and Government Newsom, Gavin Law and Legislation Landlords Homeless Persons gentrification California Affordable Housing

Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, was the bill’s author. “The housing crisis is reaching every corner of America,” he said.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Measures were recently introduced in Massachusetts and Florida to allow rent regulation in cities with a housing crunch — like Boston, Miami and Orlando.

Nationally, about a quarter of tenants pay more than half their income in rent, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. And California’s challenges are particularly acute. After an adjustment for housing costs, it has the highest state poverty rate, 18.2 percent, about five percentage points above the national average, according to a Census Bureau report published Tuesday.

Homelessness has come to dominate the state’s political conversation and prompted voters to approve several multibillion-dollar programs to build shelters and subsidized housing with services for people coming off the streets.

Despite those efforts, San Francisco’s homeless population has grown by 17 percent since 2017, while the count in Los Angeles has increased by 16 percent since 2018. Over all, the state accounts for about half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population of roughly 200,000.

That bleak picture — combined with three-hour commutes, cries for teacher housing and the sight of police officers sleeping in cars — is prompting legislators and organizers to propose ever more far-reaching steps.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, offered a bill that would essentially override local zoning to allow multiple-unit housing around transit stops and in suburbs where single-family homes are considered sacrosanct. The bill was shelved in its final committee hearing this year, but Mr. Wiener has vowed to keep pushing the idea.

Economists from both the left and the right have a well-established aversion to rent control, arguing that such policies ignore the message of rising prices, which is to build more housing. Studies in San Francisco and elsewhere show that price caps often prompt landlords to abandon the rental business by converting their units to owner-occupied homes. And since rent controls typically have no income threshold, they have been faulted for benefiting high-income tenants.

“Rent control is definitely having a moment across the country,” said Jim Lapides, a vice president at the National Multifamily Housing Council, which opposes such restrictions. “But we’re seeing folks turn to really shortsighted policy that will end up making the very problem worse.”

But many of the same studies show that rent-control policies have been effective at shielding tenants from evictions and sudden rent increases, particularly the lower-income and older tenants who are at a high risk of becoming homeless. Also, many of the newer policies — which supporters prefer to call rent caps — are considerably less stringent than those in effect in places like New York and San Francisco for decades.

“Caps on rent increases, like the one proposed in California or the one recently passed in Oregon, are part of a new generation of rent-regulation policies that are trying to thread the needle by offering some form of protection against egregious rent hikes for vulnerable renters without stymieing much-needed new housing construction,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, research director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California.

Supporters of rent control marched in Sacramento last year. After adjusting for housing costs, California has the highest state poverty rate.CreditRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Mr. Chiu’s bill is technically an anti-gouging provision, with a 10-year limit, modeled on the typically short-term price caps instituted after disasters like floods and fires. It exempts dwellings less than 15 years old, to avoid discouraging construction, as well as most single-family homes. But it covers tenants of corporations like Invitation Homes, which built nationwide rental portfolios encompassing tens of thousands of properties that had been lost to foreclosure after the housing bust a decade ago.

According to the online real-estate marketplace Zillow, only about 7 percent of the California properties listed last year saw rent increases larger than allowed under the bill. But there could be a big effect in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods like Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where typical rents on apartments not covered by the city’s rent regulations have jumped more than 40 percent since 2016.

By limiting the steepest and most abrupt rent increases, the bill is also likely to reduce the incentive for hedge funds and other investors to buy buildings where they see a prospective payoff in replacing working-class occupants with tenants paying higher rents.

Sandra Zamora, a 27-year-old preschool teacher, lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Menlo Park, Calif., a short drive from Facebook’s expanding headquarters. A year ago, Ms. Zamora’s building got a new owner, and the rent jumped to $1,900 from $1,100, a rise of over 70 percent. Most of her neighbors left. Ms. Zamora stayed, adding a roommate to the 600-square-foot space and taking a weekend job as a barista.

“Having an $800 increase at once was really shocking,” she said. “It just keeps me thinking every month: ‘O.K., when is it going to happen? How much am I going to get increased the next month?’ It’s just a constant worry.”

Even as more states begin to experiment with rent control, it has long existed in places like New York City, which intervened to address a housing shortage post-World War II, and San Francisco, where it was adopted in 1979.

Today it is common in many towns across New Jersey and in several cities in California, including Berkeley and Oakland, although the form differs by jurisdiction. Regulated apartments in New York City are mostly subject to rent caps even after a change in tenants, for example, while rent control in the Bay Area has no such provision.

In New York City, where almost half of the rental stock is regulated, a board determines the maximum rent increases each year; this year it approved a 1.5 percent cap on one-year leases, considerably lower than the limits passed in Oregon and California.

Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a coalition of New York tenants that pushed for new rent laws, welcomed the outcome in California.

“Any victory helps to build a groundswell,” she said. “There is a younger generation of people who see themselves as permanent renters, and they’re demanding that our public policy catches up to that economic reality.”

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Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California

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WASHINGTON — President Trump is pushing aides to find ways to curtail the growing number of homeless people living on the streets of Los Angeles, part of broader discussions his aides have held for weeks about urban problems in liberal locales, according to his personal lawyer and administration officials.

A team of administration officials is in California on what was described as a “fact-finding” mission as they weigh proposals to address the burgeoning crisis. But it is not clear what steps the administration could legally take on an issue that has traditionally been handled at the local level.

“Like many Americans, the president has taken notice of the homelessness crisis, particularly in cities and states where the liberal policies of overregulation, excessive taxation and poor public service delivery are combining to dramatically increase poverty and public health risks,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. He said that the president signed an executive order to ease affordable housing development in June, and that he had “directed his team to go further and develop a range of policy options for consideration to deal with this tragedy.”

The visit of the administration officials to California was first reported by The Washington Post. The intensified discussions took place as the president, who has frequently criticized how urban areas in Democratic states are managed, prepares for a swing through California next week.

California has the largest homeless population in the country, according to a 2018 report compiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, at an estimated 130,000 people.

And the nature of homelessness in California is markedly different than in other parts of the country; the state also has the highest percentage of homeless who are unsheltered, with nearly 70 percent of the homeless — or about 90,000 people — living on the street. That report estimated that nearly half of all people without shelter in the United States were in California in 2018. New York State had the second largest homeless population, nearly 92,000, according to the report. But of those, fewer than 5 percent lacked shelter.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and former mayor of New York, who was known for his aggressive crackdowns on street-bound homelessness, said he had been discussing the issue with administration officials.

“I think they feel that there’s got to be something that creates an incentive, carrot and stick, for cities to do something about it,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that the discussions had been going on for two months.

Word of the efforts by the administration, which has repeatedly sought to cut housing assistance in its budget requests, alarmed advocates for the homeless and angered city leaders across California.

“Simply cracking down on homelessness without providing the housing that people need is not a real solution and will likely only make the situation worse,” said Mayor London Breed of San Francisco, whose city has been an object of the president’s scorn.

An estimated 59,000 homeless people live in Los Angeles County, according to a count conducted this year by the county, about a 12 percent increase over 2018. Of those, an estimated 44,000, or 75 percent, were unsheltered. Within the city of Los Angeles, which is distinct from the county, there were 36,000 homeless, including 27,000 who were unsheltered, according to that same count.

Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric M. Garcetti, and other political leaders faced intense scrutiny this summer after the release of the results of the 2019 count, which also showed that the number of homeless had increased 16 percent in the city. The surge was especially shocking because the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars in 2018 to address the problem.

Voters approved two high-profile initiatives in recent years to fund homeless services in the region, including a 2016 city bond that earmarked $1.2 billion to build housing for the homeless and a 2017 county quarter-cent sales tax increase to raise about $355 million annually for 10 years. The mayor’s defenders and city officials have pointed out that the city housed nearly 22,000 people in 2018, a record number for the government and an increase of 23 percent from 2017. But even amid those efforts, the high cost of housing in Los Angeles, one of the priciest rental markets in the country, has continued to push more individuals and families out of their homes.

While Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles has often been a focal point for national conversations about homelessness, the high rate of unsheltered people has become a source of friction across the state, in cities including Eureka, Oakland and San Francisco. With nowhere else to go, the homeless often set up encampments on sidewalks and beneath highway overpasses. Increasingly, encampments are nestling against wild lands, raising concerns amid increasingly intense and volatile wildfire seasons.

But while the displeasure of middle-class urban residents often receives attention, the homeless themselves — many of whom have full-time jobs but cannot afford California’s high rents — have the most to be frustrated about. Safety is a huge concern: An analysis published earlier this year by Kaiser Health News found that a record 918 homeless people died last year in Los Angeles County.

The administration has discussed refurbishing homeless facilities or building new ones, The Post reported. An administration official said that while those ideas have been discussed, nothing has been settled.

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Trump Moves to Send Mortgage Giants Back to Private Sector

Westlake Legal Group defaultPromoCrop Trump Moves to Send Mortgage Giants Back to Private Sector United States Politics and Government Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Mortgages Federal National Mortgage Assn (Fannie Mae) Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (Freddie Mac) Banking and Financial Institutions Affordable Housing

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a long-awaited plan to end federal control of two mortgage giants that were bailed out by taxpayers during the 2008 financial crisis and return them to the private sector.

The administration’s 49 recommendations to overhaul America’s housing finance system are unlikely to find an eager audience in Congress, which has been deeply divided on the issue and is now consumed with other fights in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

But the proposal could accelerate the administration’s attempts to privatize the mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which collectively backstop a little less than half of the nation’s $11 trillion mortgage market.

The plan — released by the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development Department — was ordered up by President Trump in the spring, more than a decade after the government took over the mortgage giants at the height of the financial crisis. It includes recommendations meant to limit the federal government’s role in the mortgage market and inject more private competition into it. Officials say it would promote affordable housing and protect taxpayers from bailing out Fannie and Freddie in the event of another housing crash.

But releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from their federal embrace has proved politically difficult, because the entities effectively subsidize the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages that are most popular among American home buyers. Affordable housing advocates have warned that returning the firms to the private market could threaten those mortgages or make them more expensive and more difficult to obtain for low-income home buyers.

“The administration says it is trying to save taxpayers from the risk of another future catastrophic meltdown, but it is essentially turning the system over to Wall Street,” said Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending.

In a nod to those concerns, administration officials insisted in a Thursday briefing with reporters that their plans would create more competition in housing finance and would reduce costs for borrowers, not raise them.

While officials said the 30-year mortgage would be protected, the report suggested that such long-term mortgages could remain widely available without government support, or that “the United States could perhaps follow the lead of other countries” and shift toward other types of mortgages, like ones with variable rates.

The report went on to say that “stability in the housing finance system is crucial, and generally counsels in favor of preserving what works in the current system, including the longstanding support of the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan.”

Despite talk of privatized mortgage markets, the report said the government should provide a full, taxpayer-backed guarantee of mortgage-backed securities — and called on Congress to create one.

Critics say such a move would allow investors to take risks in the mortgage market and reap rewards, but leave taxpayers on the hook in the event of another housing crash. Such a scenario is what helped fell Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008.

How the plan’s goals would be met remain vague — for example, the proposal offered options for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to raise the capital they would need to go private, such as engaging in a stock offering, but it did not specify which options the administration prefers. Many are recommendations for congressional action that are unlikely to be enacted anytime soon.

Several are likely to draw condemnation from housing advocacy groups. Those include overhauling federal affordable housing requirements and setting new restrictions that appear to be meant to discourage the companies from investing as heavily in mortgages for apartment buildings in areas, such as New York, that have adopted rent-control laws, which the administration says impede housing development.

Administration officials say it is long past time to rebuild Fannie and Freddie’s capital reserves and release them from federal conservatorship, reducing the risk that taxpayers would be forced to bail out the mortgage market if another housing crisis led to a wave of foreclosures. Privatization could bring a windfall for hedge funds and other investors that bought Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock after the crisis for pennies, then pushed the administration to hasten the process.

“The housing finance system is in serious need of reform,” the report declared, noting that after 10 years in government conservatorship, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “continue to be the dominant participants in the housing finance system. Although they remain critical to the functioning of that system, they are not yet subject to capital and other regulatory requirements tailored to the risks they pose to financial stability. This lack of reform has left taxpayers exposed to future bailouts.”

Recommendations that require congressional action could disappoint some investors, who had hoped the Trump administration would move quickly to boost the companies’ financial cushion, then quickly sell the government’s stakes in them. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has long advocated removing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from government control, has also said that he believes that they should be restructured in the context of broader housing finance legislation.

The proposal kicks other key decisions to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, an independent regulator headed by a longtime champion of free-market competition in home lending, Mark Calabria.

Mr. Calabria has said repeatedly that he has the authority to start the process of returning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private hands without Congress. In a recent interview, he said he expected to take steps this fall to allow the firms to begin building cash reserves by Jan. 1.

Currently, the entities are required to send all profits to Treasury, above a certain capital limit. Mr. Calabria said he expected that practice to end shortly, though the report did not explicitly call for that. He also said the process of returning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private hands, including raising money from a possible stock offering, could take years.

“There’s a lot of things you need to exit,” he said. “You can’t just do those things over a weekend.”

Any proposal by the Trump administration to make major changes to housing finance laws will likely be met with deep skepticism from groups that have been critical of its effort to scale back government regulations meant to reduce racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects.

Ms. Bailey of the Center for Responsible Lending said that she feared the Trump administration’s plan would drive up the cost of mortgages for all borrowers. She said this would be particularly painful for rural residents, low- and moderate-income families and communities of color that are already struggling to find affordable housing.

Ms. Bailey said that higher mortgage costs could disrupt the housing market and the broader economy and that the administration should not forget the lessons of the financial crisis.

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Amazon HQ2 Is Upending Northern Virginia’s Already Unstable Housing Market

WASHINGTON — Amazon has yet to break ground in Northern Virginia for its second headquarters, but residents are already turning away persistent speculators, recalculating budgets for down payments on homes and fighting rent increases.

Amazon announced in November that its second headquarters would be in National Landing, which includes parts of Crystal City, Pentagon City and Alexandria, all suburbs of Washington. The company will hire 25,000 people over the next 10 to 12 years.

“That day in November, I got more Zillow calls, inquiries and leads off of Zillow than I did the entire month of October,” said Michelle Doherty, a real estate agent who focuses on South Arlington, an area that is expected to change a lot.

As of June, the median home price in Arlington County was on track to spike 17.2 percent by the end of 2019, according to a report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.

Speculators have begun asking homeowners to sell. Potential home buyers, typically younger, are holding off buying to save more money for down payments. Low-income renters are worried about rising rents and about how they will afford basic necessities.

And Amazon has not even fully arrived yet. The company plans to hire 400 employees for the headquarters by the end of the year, and 1,000 to 1,500 employees in subsequent years.

James Younger, a homeowner in South Arlington for over 30 years, received inquiries from speculators once or twice a year before the Amazon HQ2 announcement. Now, he gets inquiries at least twice a month.

“I’m certainly not going to sell it,” Mr. Younger said.

Some real estate brokers have gone beyond mailers. Agents hosted a wine and cheese event, with massages, in the community room in Erica Le Blanc’s town home building in Crystal City.

“Amazon is just speeding up the development timeline,” said Ms. Le Blanc, who expects to see more restaurants in her neighborhood because of Amazon.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157626066_9b0a943f-8968-4139-bd3c-1e3af3fc08ba-articleLarge Amazon HQ2 Is Upending Northern Virginia’s Already Unstable Housing Market Real Estate and Housing (Residential) Homeless Persons amazon Affordable Housing

“Whether or not the rent increases the people have experienced recently are the result of Amazon, or just the normal demand in the housing market, we don’t know yet,” said Christian Dorsey, the chairman of the Arlington County Board.CreditJared Soares for The New York Times

Christian Dorsey, the chairman of the Arlington County Board, was careful to note that he did not believe Amazon was directly responsible for the spike in home prices and cautioned that rent increases were typical for the area.

“Whether or not the rent increases the people have experienced recently are the result of Amazon, or just the normal demand in the housing market, we don’t know yet,” he said.

But low-income residents in Northern Virginia are worried. Amazon first began in Seattle in 1994, and since then, highly paid workers moving into the region to work at the company have driven up home and rental costs in the area. Homelessness rates have skyrocketed.

Arlington is already one of the most expensive places to live in Northern Virginia, largely because of its proximity to Washington, and many residents fear that it could now go the way of Seattle.

“The fact that we’re going to have 25,000 more jobs in Arlington is just likely to make it even more difficult for someone who doesn’t have a large income to live in Arlington,” said Christine Richardson, a board member of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

Gloria, a housekeeper who has lived in Arlandria, a neighborhood in Alexandria, for over 13 years, has already seen rent increases. The increases have made it harder for her to afford basic needs like food, clothes and shoes for her daughters, who are in the sixth and seventh grades, and herself.

“Before in the past, every time the rent were to increase, it would only increase around $15 monthly,” said Gloria, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of retaliation from her building’s management company. “But now they increased it up to $75.” She thinks the Amazon announcement prompted the increases.

Gloria has been working with Ingris Moran, the lead organizer for Tenants and Workers United, a grass-roots nonprofit organization in Arlandria that works with low-income immigrant communities, to stop her building’s management company from again raising the rent during this lease period.

Ms. Moran said she was nervous about such increases. She grew up in Arlandria and lives with her husband and her parents in a one-bedroom apartment that has a den. The rent, including utilities, can reach up to $1,700 a month.

“My neighbors, most of them have two to three jobs, and they are earning much less than me and they still have children, so I can just imagine how they’re struggling when I’m struggling myself,” Ms. Moran said.

Benedetta Kissel, a homeowner in South Arlington, said her son lived in Maryland because the prices of homes in South Arlington were too high.

“My neighbors, most of them have two to three jobs, and they are earning much less than me and they still have children so I can just imagine how they’re struggling when I’m struggling myself,” said Ingris Moran, the lead organizer of the Tenants and Workers United labor union in Alexandria, Va.CreditJared Soares for The New York Times

“Many people’s children can’t afford to live in their hometown due to high rents and home prices,” she said. “Amazon will only make this worse.”

Virginia, Alexandria and Arlington County have all increased their housing budgets for 2020, in part because of the Amazon announcement.

The Virginia General Assembly approved $9 million annually for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which is an extra $3.5 million in funding. Arlington County budgeted $16 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $9.3 million for Housing Grants, a rental subsidy program. That is roughly $1 million in additional funding for both the Affordable Housing Investment and Housing Grants.

Mr. Dorsey said the $1 million in additional funding would primarily go toward maintaining existing efforts.

“With Amazon coming, we have new efforts that are being supported by $15 million annually from the Commonwealth of Virginia, from the state, for the next five years to deal with housing impacts from Amazon and associated investment,” he said.

But housing and community advocates said that was not enough, especially because of the incentives Amazon received: $23 million from Arlington County and $750 million from the State of Virginia.

“I don’t think we as a community and leaders did enough upfront to focus on affordable housing with Amazon,” said Julius D. Spain Sr., the president of the Arlington chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “How are our families who are earning $20,000 to $60,000 a year going to sustain and afford to live in a place such as Arlington?”

Amazon counters that its second headquarters will not have the same effect in the Washington region that its first headquarters had in Seattle.

“One of the things that drew us to this location was the plans the county and the commonwealth have in place to address this issue,” said Brian Huseman, a vice president for public policy at Amazon. “We also plan to grow gradually and hire people who live here to help reduce the impact on the region.”

The company already has plans to address housing issues in the region. Its development partner, JBG Smith, is the principal sponsor of the Washington Housing Initiative, which aims to produce affordable work force housing. Amazon announced in June that it would donate $3 million to the Arlington Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that addresses affordable housing and homelessness in the region. The company also plans to match its employees’ contributions to several organizations that focus on housing, up to $5 million.

“That’s great that they did that,” said Alice Hogan, a member of the Arlington County Housing Commission. “But that is like a penny in their world, a tenth of a penny.”

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Google Pledges $1 Billion to Ease Bay Area Housing Crisis

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SAN FRANCISCO — Google pledged $1 billion worth of land and money on Tuesday to build affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, the latest effort by tech industry leaders to address housing shortages near their headquarters.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said in a blog post that the company planned to repurpose at least $750 million worth of land it owns for housing over the next 10 years. In addition, Mr. Pichai said Google planned to create a $250 million investment fund to provide incentives for developers to create 5,000 affordable homes in the area.

Google estimates this could spur the building of at least 20,000 homes in the Bay Area.

Google and other Silicon Valley firms have expanded rapidly over the years, injecting huge amounts of wealth into the area and exacerbating a housing imbalance. Buying or renting a home in the Bay Area has become prohibitive for most people outside the technology industry. Over the past eight years, the San Francisco Bay Area has added about 676,000 jobs and 176,000 housing units, according to the Bay Area Council.

Other technology companies have donated money to ease the housing problems that have resulted from their rapid growth. In January, Microsoft announced that it would donate $500 million to help provide affordable housing in the Seattle area. That month, a group of Bay Area philanthropists, including Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, also pledged to donate $500 million to protect and expand affordable housing in the area.

Google’s announcement comes one day before the annual shareholder meeting for its parent company, Alphabet. In the past, the company has come under fire for not doing enough to ease the housing problems in the area. And this year, it is expected to face even more criticism from protesters over its handling of sexual harassment issues and its plans to return to China.

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