News and Views
February 1, 2018
Homes were already scarce and rents were skyrocketing in the county’s second largest city before deadly fires destroyed more than 5,000 homes in surrounding municipalities. Housing advocates, exasperated at what they views as a lack of city leadership on the issue, have attended several city council meetings since the October firestorm to plead with elected officials for more action on the housing crisis. The city will hold its first public forum about housing solutions Feb. 12, more than four months after the disaster.
Life is somewhere between hard and heartbreak for the majority-Latino tenants remaining in The Melrose apartments, where residents of 40 of its 72 units are facing an eviction deadline of Feb. 1. This is the latest, and probably the final, wave of no-cause evictions at the apartment complex, where tenant rights have gone head-to-head against its ownership for the past year.
One snowy winter day, after standing at his restaurant job washing dishes, Jinlong Chen came home to the apartment that he and his wife shared with several other families on Beach Street in Boston’s Chinatown. He opened the door to their room to find water and debris everywhere. Part of the ceiling had collapsed.
January 26, 2018
The building located at 800 Traction Avenue in Los Angeles’ Arts District is five stories, made of brick and concrete. Built in 1918 and designed by the same architect who created LA's City Hall, it was a warehouse for coffee and spices for decades. Then, in the 1980s and 1990s, artists looking for big work spaces and cheap rents discovered the building and started moving in. One of them was photographer Jamie Itigaki, who moved to 800 Traction in 1996 when the surrounding neighborhood was still considered too sketchy for many Angelenos.
January 26, 2018
When all of my belongings were in storage and I was living out of the second-bedroom of my best friend’s apartment while her son was off at college –unless you knew my situation you had no idea that I was homeless–but I was. That’s why I can tell you now, that although the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count just got underway, the count is going to be woefully inaccurate and the full magnitude of the crisis underreported if we just focus on the homeless that we can see.
Tenant advocacy groups are expected to submit 20,000 signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections today to put a measure on the June ballot to give legal counsel to all renters in the city facing eviction, organizers said. If the measure passes in the June 5 election, San Francisco would be the first city in California to provide such representation. "This is history," Jon Golinger, campaign advisor for the No Eviction Without Representation Initiative, said. "This will be a model for other cities."
A federal judge in Maryland ruled Friday that Jared Kushner’s family real estate company could not keep secret the identities of its partners in Baltimore-area apartment complexes that are the subject of a class-action lawsuit by tenants. The class-action lawsuit was filed in September, following a May article co-published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine that described how Kushner Companies have used highly aggressive tactics in pursuing payments from tenants and former tenants of 15 large apartment complexes it owns and manages in the Baltimore area.
January 25, 2018
You could say the people living at Del Rio Mobile Home Park are living here on borrowed time -- but it's not borrowed. They paid for it. "We're getting treated like squatters, basically," one resident said. Each one of them got an eviction notice at the beginning of January. It gave them five days to get out -- just five days. "This came as a major shock to them -- residents who have been paying rent to this person who has pretended to be the owner. When, in fact, it's actually a sister," said Javier Castro with California Rural Legal Assistance.
Since being evicted from her apartment in New York’s Bronx neighborhood in September, Areletha McLain and her six young children have crammed into a two-bedroom apartment with five relatives. Their belongings are piled up in a corner and the kids sleep doubled-up in bunks scattered throughout the unit. It is not her first eviction, and they have taken a toll on her children. “When they get comfortable [with a school] and start liking it, that’s when they get taken from it,” she said.
A new Oakland ordinance requires relocation payments of thousands of dollars to renters evicted by landlords who are moving back to their properties. Passed by the City Council on Jan. 16, the Uniform Relocation Ordinance creates a schedule of relocation payments that will increase every year based on consumer price index fluctuations
January 24, 2018
My trip from the middle class into the ranks of the homeless began with a ticket of sorts. I came home one afternoon in 2013 from another fruitless job search to find a summons taped to the front door of my $2,000-a-month apartment in suburban Washington, D.C. Show up in housing court on the assigned date with the back rent, it read. Or be prepared to find another place to live.
January 24, 2018
Mayors across the United States say that housing costs are the biggest reason that people are moving away from cities, according to a new survey released Tuesday. According to the Menino Survey of Mayors, 51 percent of leaders in 115 cities said housing affordability is the most common reason that people move away from cities, followed by jobs, schools and public safety concerns.
January 23, 2018
A Brooklyn landlord is trying to drive out Latino tenants, demanding they prove their legal immigration status and cooking up baseless eviction cases, according to a federal lawsuit. Now current and former residents at two Sunset Park buildings are looking to bring Adel Eskander’s years of alleged discrimination to a halt with the class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
January 23, 2018
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.
January 23, 2018
When José Rivera moved into his house, he thought he was on the path to home ownership. But after several years and more than $90,000 in rent, he can't even get his landlord to fix the broken pipe that leaked raw sewage into his home. Rivera's landlord is Colony Starwood Homes, a rental giant backed by Wall Street investment firms. When he first told the company about his leaky pipe, they cleaned the carpet, but left the sewage issue alone. When the pipe leaked again, Rivera filed another complaint -- and five days later, he received a notice to vacate.
January 22, 2018
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.
January 20, 2018
RENITA BARBEE, 52, was still grieving the death of her mother last fall when she received another shock. Her landlord, the Wall Street rental behemoth Invitation Homes, was raising her rent to $3,000 a month, an increase of more than $800 all at once. Barbee had shared the three-bedroom Los Angeles rental home with her mother, husband, and daughter. But her husband wasn’t working after a recent stroke, and without her mother’s Social Security payments to help cover the bills, there was no way that Barbee’s family could afford to stay put on just her salary as a city dispatcher.
January 19, 2018
The cost of rent continues to rise in the Central Valley and many renters are struggling to cope with the ever-changing prices. Many Modesto renters say if the rent prices continue to climb like they have the past several years they may be forced to move out. One local property management firm says the end of the rise might be several years away. "In one way I’m very angry about having to stay here, but on the other hand I’m blessed to have a roof over my head," said Tina Gilstrap, a renter of eight years.
Some survivors of the wine country wildfires are being evicted from their homes after sharp rent increases. Evictions in burn-affected areas are up – and up dramatically. The wine country wildfires killed 24 and displaced thousands more. But three months later, there is now a second wave of victims: losing their homes not to flames, but to evictions.
Two East Harlem residents filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the city’s recent rezoning of the neighborhood, claiming the move was preceded by analyses that failed to account for pressures facing them and other rent-stabilized tenants. The suit claims the city did not consider rent-stabilized housing tenants when estimating how many East Harlem residents could be vulnerable to displacement after a rezoning, and what the city could do to protect them.