If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, chances are very high that you have heard just how much you could be making right now by buying and flipping property. What you’re not hearing is the way in which property flipping and massive speculation are at the root of the eviction and gentrification crisis here.
The idea that land and housing are commodities is something very real in the United States, where the quality of your housing depends on how many zeros are in your paycheck.
House flipping and speculative practices take the housing-for-profit thing to staggering new lows. The main goal of house flipping is making a lot of money very quickly. It’s not about long-term investment in a neighborhood, or about being a landlord for any period of time. It’s also not about calling what has been someone’s home for decades an “investment.”
Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population in the Mission District dropped 22 percent. In the year 2013 alone, The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project estimates that as many as 3,580 San Franciscans have been evicted from their homes.
We live in a city with the fastest growing income inequality gap. Which is why on a rainy afternoon in February 2014, after four months of neighborhood tenant conventions, more than 800 tenants from all over San Francisco assembled for hours to hammer out real, concrete solutions to the crisis we are in.
The answers that emerged were to build a movement big enough and strong enough to truly assert that we have a right to housing in San Francisco, and to use the 2014 ballot to move bold legislation.
With deep roots in San Francisco politics, Proposition G was first introduced 40 years ago by Supervisor Harvey Milk and was the last piece of legislation he worked on before he was murdered.
Proposition G is a carefully crafted, graduated tax that will focus solely on speculators and house flippers. It will only apply to multi-unit properties (2-29) and will only be charged when the owner resells the property in less than five years.
So if flipper resells a property within a year of buying it, he or she will be charged 24 percent surtax in the resale value of the property. It is only the profit that flippers are so concerned about that is being taxed.
If you sell at a loss; if you live in a single-family home, owner-occupied condo or TIC; or if you hold on to your property for more than five years and are actually being a landlord, this tax will not impact you.
This tax is about holding speculators accountable for the destabilization of our neighborhoods and the artificial inflation of our housing market and rental prices. It’s a bold and community-developed step towards keeping San Franciscans in their homes.
So when you hear another commercial about how amazing house flipping is remember that in San Francisco, those houses that are being “flipped” are not empty. They are the homes that working class black and Latino tenants have built from the ground up.
Remember that although we have been conditioned to think otherwise, housing (not profit) is a human right and that people’s access and ability to keep their housing (again not profits) should be protected. So, vote ”yes” on Proposition G.