News and Views
July 23, 2017
Few facets of our society offer a better display of the depravity of capitalism than the housing industry. Recently, the Grenfell Tower tragedy killed hundreds of poor people and displaced hundreds more in London. In the United States, we have also seen the displacement of thousands, if not millions, in the wake of the financial crisis. While entire city blocks lay vacant, people sleep on the street or bounce from place to place in search of permanent housing.
Help may be on the way for the 80 poor people being evicted from a downtown apartment building Modesto is condemning. Social service agencies will meet this week with the tenants, and a Bay Area attorney says he expects to sue the landlord on behalf of the tenants. Modesto has declared the two-story building of 27 studio apartments unfit and unsafe for occupancy.
July 13, 2017
It was a brutally hot and humid day in the nation’s capital and Margie Mathers needed a cane to get up to the podium, but the Florida senior had a story she was determined to tell. “When I moved into our manufactured housing community in North Fort Myers, it was a beautiful, peaceful place,” Mathers told the crowd of around 1,000 activists who’d converged on the city for a July 13 Tenant March on Washington. “Now I have neighbors who are really struggling. They’re taking their medications every other day instead of every day and not eating the food they need to be healthy.”
July 12, 2017
At a packed meeting Tuesday night, the Fremont City Council backed off from pursuing rent control measures after weighing options and hearing from dozens of landlords and tenants. While Councilman Vinnie Bacon said he favors aggressive rent control and eviction protection measures, he was alone. Councilmen David Bonaccorsi and Raj Salwan said they would prefer to strengthen the city’s existing resolution program, which mediates rent increase disputes between landlords and tenants.
July 12, 2017
Nearly a decade after the housing market’s collapse, California’s real estate market has bounced back — and then some. The median price for a two-bedroom rental in San Francisco, depending on what report is used, ranges from roughly $3,000 a month to well over $4,000. The median home-sale price in the state, says the California Association of Realtors, is over $536,000.
July 12, 2017
Everyone has their own definition of rich. Living in an average, two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles probably doesn't figure in anyone's approximation of contemporary wealth. Yet technically speaking, those who can afford such accommodation are wealthy.
“Good morning, this is 2015 Properties in Santa Monica. How may I help you?” “Good morning, sir. My name is Ellie Ramirez and I’m calling about the one bedroom apartment in Sunset Park that’s advertised on Craigslist.” “You’re in luck, Ellie. It’s still available and I’m the manager, Craig Perry. “The rent is $1,900 a month,” Craig adds. “When we run your credit report, will we see that you can afford that?” “Oh, yes,” replies Ellie. “I work part-time and just got a Section 8 housing voucher so I can afford up to—”
City officials have started to more seriously discuss imposing a tax on vacancies. Supervisor Aaron Peskin requested the City Attorney’s Office on Tuesday “to explore legislation that would allow the city and county San Francisco to impose a vacancy tax on property owners to help mitigate the impacts of the widespread practice of warehousing valuable residential and commercial units.”
Oakland Looks to Close Owner Move-In and Occupancy Loopholes, Reduce Evictions and Harmful Rent Increases
July 11, 2017
A key committee of the Oakland City Council approved the first step in drafting stronger protections against bogus owner move-in evictions today. The Community and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously in favor of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan's request to have the city's rent board study the problem and come up with solutions that will better protect renters.
July 11, 2017
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved two pieces of legislation intended to keep lower- and middle-class residents in the city, each requiring a hard-won compromise between the board’s moderate and progressive wings. The first law lays out several proof-of-residency requirements for landlords who evict their tenants, saying they want to occupy a dwelling themselves. The supervisors approved it unanimously on the first reading. It is expected to come back for final passage next week.
Tenants who rent homes from one of America’s largest corporate landlords are asking the company to stop increasing their rent and address what they say is endemic neglect of the properties.
July 5, 2017
Effective Sept. 1, landlords of about 10,000 rent-controlled units in Richmond will be able to increase rents by no more than 3.4 percent, and must file notice with the City’s Rent Board if they intend to do so, according to the June 30 City Manager’s report. Tasked with administering the City’s relatively new rent control policy, the Richmond Rent Board released its 2017 annual general adjustment that caps rent increases to about 3 percent each year.
The San Diego Housing Commission and area elected officials Wednesday kicked off a three-year, $80 million program to provide more housing for the area's burgeoning homeless population. The new phase of the commission's Housing First-San Diego plan involves six initiatives, which include giving incentives to landlords to rent to people who are homeless, providing more than 700 housing vouchers, constructing more affordable housing and voucher-eligible housing units, and assisting 600 more families that become homeless because of a sudden change like loss of a job.
As Oregon continues to grapple with an affordable housing shortage, the Oregon Senate appears ready to kill renters' best hope for new protections in this year's legislative session. Over the weekend, speculation began spreading online that Democratic senators didn't have the support to pass House Bill 2004. With the clock running out on this year's legislative session, it looks like the legislation will die in committee. "I can confirm that there is not a path forward for House Bill 2004," says Rick Osborn, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leadership.
The march toward high rents in Los Angeles appears not to be letting up. Rents for Angelenos have risen 5 percent since last June, according to a report released Monday by an apartment listings company. Apartment List’s latest data also shows that rents grew by half a percent over just the past month. The median monthly rent for a two-bedroom in Los Angeles is $1,720, more than the national average, which is $1,150, the report shows.
As Los Angeles County kicks off its largest campaign ever to tackle homelessness, officials are also looking to stem the tide of those losing housing and ending up on the streets. On Monday, the county will start spending expected revenue from Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax that kicks in Oct. 1. The tax is expected to raise up to $355 million annually for all kinds of services related to homelessness — including the somewhat nascent field of homelessness prevention, which is slated to receive $45 million of investments in the first three years of the tax.
July 3, 2017
It is shaping up to be a long, hot summer for San Mateo renters as monthly fees due to landlords ticked up by nearly 4 percent in last year, continuing a steady incline for the past six months, according to a recent report. The report from ApartmentList.com showed the median rent for a one-bedroom unit is $3,450 and a two-bedroom unit is $4,330, while the hikes follow a trend consistent throughout the region.
July 3, 2017
Not too long ago, Bay Area renters began to feel some relief. In the latter part of 2016, analysts described softening rents and, indeed, a plateau appeared to have emerged early this year. But here we go again. The cost of renting an apartment moved up in June across the region, according to a new analysis from ApartmentList.com, a website that tracks the national rental market. Nationwide, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,150, up 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Most Bay Area cities were about double that, or more.
UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW students fed-up with high rents for rubbish flats and financial malpractice by rogue landlords are taking matters into their own hands by establishing a vetting service of local accommodation lets. A voluntary network of students organised by the university’s Student Representative Council have established a “Private Accommodation Viewing Service (PAVS)” to check that advertised accommodation “is safe to live in”. Armed with a check-list of enquiries, landlords will be questioned on the return of deposits and the safety of student flats.
For nearly two decades, Judge Marcia Sikowitz has presided over landlord-tenant disputes in one of New York City's busiest housing courts. In a borough where rapid gentrification has sent rents soaring, Sikowitz says, she has heard it all — and said it all. When a renter who was representing himself in an eviction proceeding would ask her advice, the judge had a rote retort: "I'm not your lawyer and I can't tell you what to do."