Former Stockton mayor pushes for housing as a fundamental right

Written by Amy Ta, produced by Angie Perrin

An activist holds a sign that says “housing is a human right,” at Echo Park Lake, March 24, 2021. Photo by Shutterstock.

The California Constitution would be amended to guarantee housing as a fundamental right — that’s the aim of a new bill in the State Assembly. Similar measures failed in 2020, but if ACA 10 is signed into law, it would be the first of its kind in the U.S. 

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs supports the legislation. When he was mayor, he launched an innovative Universal Basic Income program, which became a model for cities nationwide. 

Tubbs is now a special economic advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, and founder of the nonprofit called End Poverty in California (EPIC).

“When 40% of state households now spend more on housing than they can afford, when we have more than half of the nation's unsheltered people, when the Newsom administration has made historic investments in affordable housing, etc., but we still have a problem, we know that more needs to be done,” Tubbs tells KCRW. “And if the Assembly approves the bill, which allows this to go to the ballot for the people to decide, if the people decide, then it just gives advocates and folks who face a lack of access to housing — another recourse to get the housing they deserve and need.”

He adds, “What we've seen in polling is that 58, 60, 65% of Californians actually support housing as a right. So I expect that this goes on the ballot.”

State law already requires every community to build a certain amount of affordable units. But Tubbs says enforcement isn’t strong enough because housing is not a right. 

He explains that with this bill, if the local government passes zoning laws that prevent the construction of affordable homes, or if residents are unjustly evicted, then those actions would violate the amendment, enabling courts to then intervene. 

What about skeptics who don’t want more construction in their neighborhoods? Tubbs says opposition would temper down through education. 

“All the research tells us that affordable housing doesn't drive down your property value, that affordable housing doesn't lead to more crime. But in fact, the opposite occurs: When folks are housed and stable, they're healthier, less likely to commit crime, our neighborhoods are safer. But we have to do a better job of educating people past our fears. The leaders also have to step up and lead.”



  • Michael Tubbs - founder of the nonprofit End Poverty in California; special advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom; former mayor of Stockton - @MichaelDTubbs