By Salena Pryer, Black Small Business Association of California 

The pandemic has worsened the financial situations of millions of families- especially in the Black community – in California and the attempts at the federal, state, and local level to provide resources and assistance have been staggered due to shrinking budgets and the unprecedented nature of this novel situation.  

What we really need to revive our communities are robust programs like funding for education, healthcare and homeless programs, affordable housing, food assistance, and funding that stays local. But the unfortunate reality is that these services are the first to be cut from bleeding city and county budgets. 

However, there is a ballot measure this year that will provide the chance to replenish some of the budget deficits the state and local governments are facing. Proposition 19 will be on the November ballot, and is the best chance we have to recover from the ongoing financial and housing crises. 

Proposition 19 will benefit everyone, and homeowners in our community will be treated fairly. It provides housing relief for homeowners, increased funding for school districts that our children attend which leads to better educational outcomes, and funnels more money into the local community which can help Black-owned small businesses and increase the overall health of our community.  

In our experience, it is rare to see this kind of funding stay local because it is often spread so thin that it never reaches the people and programs that are most in need. However, Proposition 19 is different. The measure is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax revenue that will go straight to counties and cities to help our communities. 

The increased revenue from Proposition 19 will be incremental in helping prop up African-American and other minority-owned businesses and social programs that have been dealt blow after blow throughout this pandemic. The revenue can be used for a multitude of things like supporting low-income families, proving homeless programs, resources for businesses, healthcare services and more. Proposition 19 secures this funding long-term and does this without a tax increase. 

Additionally, the measure promotes housing equality by allowing people who are over 55, have severe disabilities, or are victims of a natural disaster to transfer their property tax to a new home anywhere in the state, no matter the price or location of the new home. Prop 19  encourages portability and making it easier to move within the state. This will help seniors or disabled Californians move to homes that are better situated to their lives while encouraging more housing availability. One of the main factors in our state’s housing crisis is the lack of available, affordable housing and this measure will encourage more movement in the housing market, and more available homes for families and renters.  

The measure will also help build wealth within the Black community by protecting the constitutional right to pass a home – along with the tax base – down to a family member to live in. This will create an avenue for generational wealth by encouraging families to keep the home within the family and the ability to transfer the tax base will keep the home affordable.