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Can LA’s ‘Mansion Tax’ Unlock Affordable Housing Across California?

Los Angeles voters appear likely to pass Measure ULA, which could generate $900 million a year for housing subsidies and tenant protections. But critics fear the fee will backfire.

LA homes that sell for more than $5 million would be assessed a 4% fee under Measure ULA. 

LA homes that sell for more than $5 million would be assessed a 4% fee under Measure ULA. 

Photographer: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday, thousands of Los Angeles voters pulled the lever for Measure ULA, a ballot initiative that aims to fund affordable housing and tenant protections by applying a levy on property sales of more than $5 million. That’s just the start of what this measure can do.

Backed by the advocacy coalition United to House LA and widely known as the “mansion tax,” the measure is ahead by 8 points as of Nov. 10, but the final results may not be known for days. If it passes, the revenue it generates promises to do what previous legislation and a parade of LA politicians have so far failed to accomplish: speed new construction and deliver a way out of the city’s spiraling homelessness crisis. The initiative is expected to generate some $900 million a year to subsidize housing, preserve affordable homes, guarantee counsel to tenants in eviction court, and subsidize other progressive priorities.