California Residents Can Be Vulnerable to Homelessness Due to Their Pets

Pet owners from California and several other states can face a struggle to secure rental housing that allows them to keep their animal companions.

“Many states, such as California, are increasingly becoming unaffordable to live in for most of the population. It’s still tougher for people with pets; pet-inclusive, affordable housing is almost impossible to find,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society.

Prospective renters with pets are subjected to additional deposits to already elevated prices for rentals, Block said.

“These pet policies adversely affect a tenant’s ability to gain access to housing, impede people’s chances at acquiring affordable and stable places to live,” Block said in a note on her organization’s website.

A woman is pictured hugging her dog. Animal welfare groups say restrictions by landlords make rental housing costs extremely trying for some pet owners.

Stock Photo/Ana Rocio Garcia Franco via Getty Images

Block said her organization was supporting a bill proposed by San Francisco Assemblyman Matt Haney. The measure aims to ask landowners to offer reasons behind restrictions on pets and, among other things, limit additional charges on rent for pet owners, according to a report by KTVU.

The bill will soon be voted on by the California state assembly.

Newsweek contacted Haney’s office for comment via email on Monday.

Some pet owners find themselves having to choose between keeping their pets or securing housing. Ann Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Service, told KTVU that some residents have been forced to send their pets to shelters. The number of pets received at the shelter rose to 350 a month on average this year compared to 240 in 2022, she told the outlet.

“We’re seeing a huge spike in people who are saying they are newly homeless,” Dunn said. “Or they’re choosing between being housed or being able to keep their pets.”

Block said that pet owners live in a state of worry about their housing situation. “Housing insecurity remains one of the top reasons why pets are relinquished to animal shelters, and in California, animal shelters are already struggling with overcrowding and lack of resources,” she wrote.

Some landlords told KTVU that they’re concerned with high costs of maintenance for properties occupied by pet owners, suggesting there was a need for more upkeep.

One lawmaker told the outlet about their own experience of struggling to secure a rental while owning a dog.

“It was shocking, and it showed that this simple barrier of having a companion animal could lead directly to housing insecurity and homelessness, if not addressed,” said California Assemblyman Isaac Bryan of Los Angeles.