News and Views

In any given week, the housing crisis in New York City reveals itself through new but familiar anecdotes of deprivation, in fresh sets of grim statistics, in staggering contradictions. Several days ago, residents of the notoriously beleaguered Louis H. Pink Houses in the East New York section of Brooklyn rallied to protest a lack of heat and hot water in the buildings, a recurring condition, they said, that left children sleeping in parkas and hats and getting sick.
  • Beyond California
  • Affordable housing
Roaches, mold and crumbling ceilings - complaints from some tenants who say it's not what they expected when they signed leases on their rental homes. Another tenant didn't expect to be jolted by an electric shock during a dip in her swimming pool either. "I jumped in the pool, the pool was literally electrified," Cathy Cole told Eyewitness News of the shocking experience on Memorial Day weekend. "It scared me," she said. "I thought I was being electrocuted."
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Los Angeles
In late September, activists staged actions in 45 cities to draw attention to predatory rent practices and vast cuts to Housing and Urban Development funding. “Renters Week of Action” was partially inspired by a report put out by the Right to the City Alliance (RTC) highlighting solutions to the problems tenants now face after the foreclosure crisis. “The majority of all renters pay an unaffordable rent,” Darnell Johnson of RTC told In These Times. “Eviction, rising rents and gentrification are racial, gender and economic violence harming our people.”
  • Tenant organizing
  • Affordable housing
A state senator and tenants rights group are working to overturn a decades-old law that prohibits rent control on homes. In the wake of a KCRA 3 investigation into the corporate ownership of single-family homes, advocates want the state to change the Costa-Hawkins law, which passed in the 1990s and prevents rent control for single-family homes. Over the past year, rents for single-family homes have increased by more than 10 percent. Tenants rights groups said one company owning too many homes in a region can have a significant impact on the rental market.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • Sacramento
Housing activists in Inglewood and Pasadena on Friday announced plans to put rent control initiatives before their cities' voters next year as part of a regional groundswell of interest in rental caps. These campaigns come after a spate of Bay Area cities put rent control on the ballot last year. Rent control supporters in two cities — Mountain View and Richmond — were successful, and those outcomes fueled hopes that Southern California communities could also limit rent increases. The efforts come as California faces a housing crisis that shows no signs of abating.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
The developers of a 20-story apartment tower planned for near Capitol Records in Hollywood announced today that they would voluntarily make all of their units rent-controlled. Subjecting the approximately 210 new apartments to the city’s rent control stabilization ordinance will cap rent increases at 3 percent per year. The ordinance applies to housing built prior to 1978—not new projects—so the decision is almost totally unheard of.
  • Rent control
  • Demolition/conversion of rental housing
A little-noticed provision in the Republican tax reform bill that passed the House on Thursday could have a big impact on affordable housing construction. The House bill maintains a tax subsidy for low-income housing construction, but ends the tax-free status of certain bonds that builders rely on to arrange financing. Developers say the mere threat of the policy change already has them scrambling to close deals for upcoming projects before the end of the year, when funding could disappear.
  • Affordable housing
Supporters of an initiative which would establish rent control in Pasadena as well as limitations on the termination of rental tenancies officially notified City officials Wednesday afternoon of their intention to publicly circulate a petition supporting a new City Charter Amendment to those ends. The notice of intent to circulate the petition was signed by Pasadena housing activist Michelle C. White; Nicole Marie Hodgson, who is a leader of the year-old Pasadena Tenants Union; and 85-year-old Pasadena renter Robert Roberts.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
Some renters of homes owned by the “billion-dollar landlords” highlighted in an ABC News investigation might be surprised to learn that they, as taxpayers, have a stake in their corporate landlord’s business. That’s because of a new initiative by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), in which Fannie Mae guarantees mortgage-backed securities on rental homes. (Fannie Mae, along with Freddie Mac, is a government-sponsored enterprise that securitizes mortgages, allowing private lenders to put more of their money back into lending.)
  • Affordable housing
Complaints of repairs undone and evictions undeserved prompted consumer investigator Jim Strickland to speak to metro tenants of a local corporate landlord. Waypoint Homes rents thousands of single family homes across metro Atlanta, and that number will more than double after a merger with another rental giant. This fact did not sit well with local tenants, who call Waypoint Homes an absentee landlord at best. The Better Business Bureau's d+ rating for Waypoint comes with an alert for a pattern of complaint.
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Eviction
Bruce Nicholson and Lisa Daspit thought they had found the perfect house. They spotted it from the car -- a bright yellow bungalow with white trim, partially hidden from the street by an array of palm trees on the lawn -- while exploring a favorite neighborhood in Margate, Florida, outside Fort Lauderdale. The couple had dreams of owning their own home, and this single-family rental offered both the time to save and the space to grow. They called the number for Waypoint Homes posted on the sign out front and moved in shortly thereafter, excited to make the house their own.
  • Rent increases
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Eviction
Sonoma County is experiencing a second wave of fire victims: renters. Many are being evicted because their homes are now needed by the landlords, for themselves or someone else to live in. "It would have been easier if everything was just gone, and we started over," Jeff Larcher told KTVU, in the Santa Rosa house he has rented for 12 years. Larcher, his wife and two children, must vacate the 3 bedroom home by January 5.
  • Eviction
  • Sonoma
A coalition of Los Angeles affordable housing advocates and labor unions isn’t happy about one of Downtown LA’s newer high-rises. In a letter to the city’s planning director, Vince Bertoni, they accuse Level Furnished Living, home of LA’s “most expensive” penthouse, of operating as an “unpermitted hotel.” The letter calls upon the planning department to open an investigation.
  • Demolition/conversion of rental housing
  • Los Angeles
The I-Team investigated the "Billion Dollar Landlords" and the tenants who say they're being bullied by them. There are allegations that the landlords are quick to threaten evictions and slow to repair. The complaints include problems with overall living conditions, repairs, and billing disputes, as well as quick eviction threats. In a joint investigation the ABC7 I-Team and ABC News are exposing complaints connected to the new trend of "Billion Dollar Landlords."
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Eviction
November 15, 2017
In 1981, Minneapolis was facing an affordable housing crisis. Rents had risen 61 percent in the five years since the repeal of Nixon-era rent controls; they were expected to increase another 10 percent the following year. A number of condominium conversions had decreased available units, and the city’s vacancy rate had fallen from 4 to 3.4 percent. With rent increasing as much as 7.6 percent in just a few months, tenants found that they could not survive.
  • Rent control
  • Beyond California
November 15, 2017
Supervisors London Breed and Jeff Sheehy announced a plan Tuesday to offer legal service to renters who are served eviction notices. It’s pitched as a right to civil counsel — similar to that which individuals accused of a crime receive.
  • Civil Gideon
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
America needs more affordable housing. That is a fact. How to fund that housing, however, has Republican tax writers in the House at odds with those in the Senate. It all comes down to a type of tax-exempt bond that funds about half of all affordable housing development. The House tax reform bill eliminates the bond — the Senate bill retains it.
  • Affordable housing
Instead of amending the city’s rent control law, Councilman Tam Nguyen said housing officials should focus on creating more affordable housing — and stop “pounding” on the landlords. But Councilman Raul Peralez argued that new housing developments take years to approve and build — and Nguyen last year voted against an affordable housing project in his district on Senter Road. “When you’re talking about a city that has 4,000 homeless people — waiting 10 or 15 years to get those homes can’t be the only solution,” Peralez said.
  • Rent control
  • Santa Clara
Voters in Portland, Maine, rejected a ballot measure last week that would have established a rent stabilization program in the small coastal city, capping off months of debate over how to address rising housing costs.
  • Rent control
  • Beyond California
Palo Alto’s city council voted against further discussion of new measures that would address the housing affordability crisis in the city even as soaring rents have displaced community members like teachers, first responders and service industry workers. While cities around the peninsula have passed rent control or approved new affordable housing projects to address the problem, the Palo Alto City Council voted 6-3 on Oct. 16 against studying stabilization measures after hearing passionate testimony from 60 members of the public.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • Santa Clara

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