News and Views

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.
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
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.
  • Affordable housing
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.
  • Beyond California
  • Discrimination
  • Eviction
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.
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
  • Los Angeles
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.
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
  • Santa Cruz
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
  • Affordable housing
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Affordable housing
  • Stanislaus
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
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.
  • Rent increases
  • Beyond California
  • Eviction
Housing advocates were dejected last Thursday when a bill to give cities and counties more power to enact rent control died by one vote in committee. Meanwhile, the Sacramento City Council heard that its own housing crisis is affecting the disabled on a level local nonprofits can’t keep up with.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
  • Sacramento
Ramon Rios-Parada has lived in Hayward his whole life and can see that things are slowly changing. When the time came for the 32-year-old social worker at La Familia Neighborhood Resource Center to look for his own place to rent, he heard stories from friends about rents in Hayward being high. What he found were studio and one-bedroom apartment rents looming around $1,200 a month and homeowners charging around $950 a month to rent individual rooms.
  • Rent increases
  • Affordable housing
  • Alameda
January 18, 2018
On the night of January 7, as temperatures around the city plummeted to 6 degrees, a pipe burst in the hallway at 1231 Broadway in Brooklyn, cutting off the cold water supply to Gabriel Martinez’s second-floor apartment.
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Eviction
San Francisco has succeeded in purging thousands of illegal short-term rental listings from Airbnb’s website, a long sought-after crackdown by those who blame the company for exacerbating the housing crisis. The purge was the result of a 2016 law adopted by the Board of Supervisors to require websites to only allow short-term rentals from those registered to do so with The City, or face penalties.
  • Affordable housing
  • San Francisco
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland Housing Authority officials today announced new financial incentives for property owners to accept low-income families as renters and help ease the city's affordable housing crisis. Speaking at a news conference at the OHA's headquarters in downtown Oakland, Schaaf said the incentives, which haven't previously been offered anywhere in the U.S., are "a win-win solution" for property owners and low-income tenants who participate in the federal Section 8 housing choice voucher program.
  • Affordable housing
  • Alameda
Rent is on the rise in the Central Valley. The Central Valley experienced some of the fastest growing rents in the mid-sized city category, according to a study by RENTCafe, a website that connects renters with properties. The five-year analysis revealed that the average rent in Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, Manteca, Modesto, Turlock and Merced has risen year over year since 2013, Stockton placed No. 2 on a list of fastest growing mid-sized U.S. cities in terms of rent increases, with a 7.8 percent rent increase year over year.
  • Rent increases
Rats left to breed unchecked. Heat and electricity cut off. Landlords demanding to see tenants’ IDs. Those are only a few of the tenant harassment tactics detailed in a new report that chronicles one of New York’s more insidious problems: predatory equity.
  • Retaliation/harassment
  • Beyond California
  • Eviction
It was a car accident that catapulted Gina Owens into advocacy. In 2000, Owens was working as a medical assistant and activism wasn’t on her radar, but a collision left her with disabilities that prevented her from continuing with her job. The landlords of her Central District apartment were understanding … for a time. They allowed her to pay about 75 percent of her $475 rent as she searched for new work. She survived on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families prior to earning disability payments. But she was evicted from her apartment once the backlog on her owed rent reached $1,000.
  • Beyond California
  • Eviction
Assembly Closes Door on Legislative Fix Last week, the Democratic-controlled Assembly Housing Committee voted down a bill to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act. And with committee members like Ed Chau, who represents Monterrey Park, treating the tenant side with contempt, Democrats demonstrated that future legislative action is pointless. Dean Preston, Director of the statewide group Tenants Together, set forth Chau’s approach to the legislation (AB 1506) on Facebook:
  • Costa Hawkins Act
A bill to repeal statewide restrictions on rent control is dead in the water. The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act was passed in 1995, prohibiting cities from establishing rent control for single family homes or any newly constructed buildings (anything built after 1995). After being stalled for over a year, the bill to repeal those restrictions (AB1506) was given its first public hearing on Friday, January 11. The bill was one shy of the four votes needed to move forward.
  • Costa Hawkins Act

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