News and Views

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
A San Francisco woman appears to have made history as the first person to successfully fend off an Ellis Act eviction through a jury trial. On Thursday, a jury found that Betty Rose Allen would not have to vacate her Noe Valley apartment, where she’s lived for nearly 40 years, after a lengthy and acrimonious legal battle with the building’s owners.
  • Ellis Act
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
Ben Hernandez and his family have spent the past five weeks in hotels, unable to find a place to rent after wildfires destroyed more than 5,000 homes in Sonoma County, including their three-bedroom tract house in northwest Santa Rosa. “It’s looking more and more like we might have to stay with relatives,” said Hernandez, who works in maintenance and construction. His homeowners insurance is paying for the hotels, he said, but the company “is only going to give you so much housing money” toward a future when the family can rebuild in Coffey Park.
  • Rent increases
  • Sonoma
Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has heard plenty of complaints about sky-high rents and hotel prices in the aftermath of the region’s devastating fires. But a report of a big dollar amount alone doesn’t necessarily constitute a violation of the state’s price-gouging law. “As of this moment we have received over 60 reports of potential rental price gouging,” Ravitch wrote Thursday in an email.
  • Rent increases
  • Sonoma
Amid soaring housing costs and a tight rental market, tenant advocates are urging the San Jose City Council on Tuesday to limit increases for rent-controlled apartments to inflation levels. Currently, landlords can raise rents in the 44,359 apartments subject to the city’s rent-control ordinance by no more than 5 percent a year. Tuesday’s proposal would limit increases to the area’s consumer price index, a variable rate determined by the federal government and considered an inflation gauge.
  • Rent control
  • Santa Clara
People didn’t really believe it. It was just so outrageously racist,” says Keith Paschall II, an Indianapolis-based community organizer and artist. “We were all just taken aback,” says Derek Hyra, a researcher on neighborhood change. They’re talking about an ad on the back of last month’s Urban Times, a local Indianapolis publication.
  • Beyond California
Two years ago, tenants of the apartment building at 1038 Second St. reported large rent hikes, evictions and onerous lease conditions. With rent control on the table, the council convinced the former property owner to cap rent increases at 10 percent. Tilden Properties, a Walnut Creek real estate investment and asset management company, bought the 117-unit building in December 2016. Residents told the council in August that the firm planned to raise rents by up to 20 percent and refused to make repairs for longtime tenants.
  • Rent increases
  • Contra Costa
Alice Norton, a 73-year old resident of Seaside Mobile Estates, stands on her patio with a handful of her neighbors. A look of grave concern is drawn on her face. Seated nearby is attorney David Brown – also a Marina city councilman – who has come to hear her out. Norton is facing eviction from a home she inherited from her mother and the park’s owners have been refusing to accept her rent check since spring. She owns the home itself, but not the land it sits on.
  • Eviction
  • Monterey
November 9, 2017
Last January, a woman in Lakewood, Ohio, ran to her neighbor’s house, bleeding from her face with a broken nose and concussion from a vicious attack by her boyfriend. With her neighbor’s help, she called the police, who took her to the hospital. Three days later, the city wrote the woman’s landlord: “Your tenant had a visitor over to the residence where he assaulted her. He was charged with felonious assault. This activity qualifies the property as a nuisance.”
  • Eviction
For Sharon Ditmore, the signs of the holidays showing up in this city devastated by fire are both comforting and depressing. Ditmore lost her home in the working-class neighborhood of Coffey Park and has been living in a friend’s guesthouse. She can’t help but think back to the Thanksgiving gatherings she enjoyed with family members in the home she and her husband had rented for nearly 30 years.
  • Rent increases
  • Sonoma
Nearly half the renters in the Bay Area struggle to meet high housing costs, despite an influx of wealthier workers into the market, a new survey found. A study by Apartment List, a rental website, found nearly 1 in 4 renters in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and surrounding areas were severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on rent. About half of Bay Area renters are considered economically burdened, spending over 30 percent of their paychecks on shelter.
  • Rent increases
  • Affordable housing
Federal Cuts Undermine Local Efforts It’s only been two months since California passed fifteen housing bills to address its affordable housing crisis, and the federal government is again up to its old tricks. The GOP tax bill reduces investment in affordable housing by $22 billion, while the massive cuts in HUD funding remain part of the budget proposal. We have seen this scenario before.
  • Affordable housing
The tax plan proposed by Congressional Republicans will likely decimate production of new affordable rental housing, even as housing shortages across the country are driving rents higher and taking ever-larger shares of Americans’ incomes. The plan released last week by the House Ways and Means Committee preserves a well-regarded program called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit — but effectively guts it. That’s because about half of all low-income housing credit development is done in conjunction with private activity bonds, a financing method that the plan scraps.
  • Affordable housing
A new study suggests lower-income renters in Vallejo are being replaced by higher-income ones. The Apartment List study finds that more than half of Vallejo renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. This is significantly fewer than just a few years ago, indicating that the area’s economic demographics may be changing. “As the U.S. renter population nears 44 million households — or 37 percent of U.S. households — and rents increase nationwide, rental affordability remains an important concern,” according to the latest Apartment List report.
  • Affordable housing
  • Solano
For the next six months, Oakland landlords won’t be able to raise rents on properties under rent control after making repairs to them. Oakland and San Francisco are the only two cities in the state that have “substantial rehabilitation exemptions” to rent stabilization ordinances, according to a report supporting the moratorium proposed by City Council members Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan. Council members voted Tuesday to impose the moratorium on granting the exemptions.
  • Rent control
  • Alameda
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which controls both houses of Congress, are pushing their agenda of massive tax cuts for the wealthy. This comes at a time when most Americans are living in or near poverty and housing is increasingly expensive. One regressive policy that is being revisited is the mortgage interest deduction (MID). The MID is a tax benefit that benefits rich, predominantly white, households and does not benefit lower-income, rent-burdened households.
  • Affordable housing
Housing advocates are seeking to take the issue of rent control directly to voters after they say repeated calls on local leaders to enact basic renter protections in Long Beach have gone unanswered. Housing Long Beach Executive Director Josh Butler, along with other community activists, walked into City Hall Wednesday morning to start the process to qualify a ballot measure for the November 2018 election. “Sixty percent of Long Beach residents currently rent their homes, and they deserve stability,” Butler said in a statement.
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
The third-largest city in the United States, Chicago, is home to more than 2.7 million people, 22 percent of whom were living in poverty as of 2016. In some communities on the South Side and West Side of the city, the poverty problem affects between 40 to 60 percent of residents. Among the many issues facing these 1.3 million Chicagoans with incomes at or below the poverty line, finding and keeping an affordable place to live is one of the most pressing—and increasingly difficult as the city transforms.
  • Rent control
  • Beyond California
With property values steadily rising throughout Los Angeles, it isn't too surprising that building owners and landlords are looking for ways to charge 2017 market-rate rents on some of the approximately 624,000 rent-controlled units in the city — that estimate coming from the rent control division of the city's housing agency.
  • Relocation payments
  • Los Angeles
Portland voters decided overwhelmingly Tuesday not to adopt a form of rent control. With all precincts reporting Tuesday evening, Question 1 on the city ballot was defeated by a nearly two-to-one margin. According to unofficial results, the vote was 13,466 to 7,595, or 64 percent to 36 percent, against the rent stabilization ordinance. Thirty-seven percent of the city’s 56,205 registered voters turned out to cast ballots.
  • Rent control
  • Beyond California

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