The newest fight for state-level tenant protections was ignited by an old pamphlet.
This past February, Elizabeth McGriff, a resident of Rochester, New York, moved back into her home at 618 Cedarwood Terrace. It was no small act, following a foreclosure local housing activists deemed unjust, prompting more than five years of bank negotiations, eviction blockades, rallies, acts of civil disobedience, prayer services, lockouts and a “live-in,” in which McGriff and others moved back into the house after sheriff’s deputies removed her belongings.
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Two years ago, City Limits wrote about an affordable housing preservation deal under Mayor Bloomberg that tenants and advocates say was disastrous and non-transparent, leading to skyrocketing rents and evictions for many tenants. Those tenants, with the support of Legal Services Corporation A and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, have now filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the owner as well as the federal and city agencies who signed off on the deal.
“Rent control is a moral, ethical, and human issue,” said tenant organizer Walter Senterfitt Tuesday evening, in laying out his position at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California Pasadena/Foothills Chapter Forum on rent control.
Continued Senterfitt, “Rent control is a human right,” as he laid out a brief history of rent control in Southern California. Senterfitt was joined at the speakers table by Allison Henry of the Pasadena Tenants Union and attorney Frank Broccolo.
Nancy Buttanda, 68, has watched in horror as her rent check eats up more and more of her fixed income. The rent on her apartment in Federal Way, Wash., has increased annually at least $100 a month for three or four years, she says, and her landlord rarely makes repairs. She now pays $1,245 a month for rent, water and trash, while living on pension, Social Security and disability payments that amount to around $3,300.
The campaign to collect signatures for a potential rent control vote in November officially started this weekend with a kickoff event at MacArthur Park but it didn’t take long for opponents and supporters to clash and now both sides are claiming to be the victim.
The rent control ballot initiative is being headed by a coalition of community groups including Housing Long Beach, a tenants rights group that for years has fought to bring stronger renters protections to a city that has about 60 percent of its residents paying rent.
The Glendale Tenants Union submitted a proposed rent stabilization ordinance on Tuesday to the city of Glendale, which began the formal process of placing the initiative before voters on the November 2018 ballot, according to a statement released by the organization.
The city now has 15 days to respond with an official summary, where the union must then collect 10,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Written as the "Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act," this is the organization's second attempt to introduce rent control in the city since forming last year.
SANTA CRUZ >> Advocates for rent control and just cause for eviction turned in the text of a proposed ballot initiative Friday to the Santa Cruz City Clerk.
Jeffrey Smedberg, retired county recycling coordinator, delivered the proposed Rent Control and Tenant Protection Act to interim City Clerk Bonnie Bush.
He was accompanied by Thao Le, a senior sociology major at UC Santa Cruz active in the Movement for Housing Justice, which is behind the ballot initiative.