News and Views
In November, California voters could repeal a controversial 1995 housing law that limited rent control across the state. Cities like Berkeley, which has one of the most comprehensive rent-control policies around, will face decisions about what to do with their housing if the law is repealed.
June 4, 2018
It was a bloodbath on the Assembly floor last week. The victims: California’s poor and working class. The winners: big corporate interests — banks, landlords, and polluters. For those who are quick to criticize the US Congress but think California’s Democrat-controlled supermajority legislature is much better, think again: when it comes to corporate control, Sacramento is caught in the tight grip of corporate lobbyists. A trio of tenant bills on the floor last week paints quite the picture:
June 1, 2018
Movements for renter power are gaining strength. Even just a few years ago discussion of any type of rent regulation was a non-starter. Now, new rent control laws are passing and a measure is headed to the ballot to repeal Costa Hawkins, the industry created state law that severely limits local rent control.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 1, 2018 Contact: Shanti Singh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-495-8100 x7
May 30, 2018
One statistic is always missing from any debate on California housing: the number of tenants facing eviction annually. Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights, recently obtained and analyzed eviction data from the state’s Judicial Council. Although the Judicial Council collects eviction data, its annual reports do not set forth its eviction data. Given the statewide displacement crisis, Tenants Together requested the raw eviction data which gives an important window into the scope of the crisis.
May 29, 2018
For many renters living in southeast Greensboro, N.C., changing addresses is an all-too-familiar endeavor. The mostly low-income residents in these communities of concentrated poverty often can’t afford to pay the monthly rent and are ultimately evicted. “We have economic and racial segregation, a concentration of social issues with bad outcomes, and families that are stretched to the limit who routinely are finding themselves in eviction court,” says Stephen Sills, who directs the Center for Housing and Community Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Prospective tenants in Novato who are turned away by landlords solely because they have Section 8 vouchers won’t have legal protection from the city — at least not yet. Guidelines that county officials hope will be adopted by each of Marin’s cities and towns were struck down by the Novato City Council on Tuesday, citing concerns that the scope of those regulations may have been too broad.
When Lisa Ginter and her husband, Paul, moved their family into a rental home in the MuraBella neighborhood in the spring of 2013, they thought they had found a dwelling where they could be comfortable. The landlord, after all, was a large corporation called Invitation Homes that had been buying up homes in the wake of the recession and turning the properties into rentals.
May 27, 2018
On his way to a doctor’s appointment, Steve Schneider sits at a bus stop in North Park on Tuesday afternoon surrounded by trendy coffee shops, tattoo parlors and mustachioed hipsters sipping craft beer. The 68-year-old has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, but in just the last four, he’s seen his rent jumped from $850 to $1,275. As an epileptic on a fixed income, he cannot drive and has recently started to fear he may have to move and lose access to transit.
May 25, 2018
An array of bills aimed at easing California’s housing crisis, from banning fees on “granny flats” to pushing housing development on BART property, cleared a key hurdle on Friday, while others died quietly in fiscal committees. One such fatality was a proposal to help teachers and other middle-income tenants live closer to their jobs , one of many bills aiming to shore up the supply of badly needed affordable housing for low- and middle-income families. California housing officials estimate that shortfall has ballooned to a staggering 3.5 million homes.
Crossing the Frederick Douglass–Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge on a brisk spring morning in Rochester, New York, the first thing one sees is a small tent city scattered about the banks of the Genesee River. It’s a sprawl of black tarps, folding chairs, and a charcoal grill, all set up on private land. The property’s owner, a cable company called Spectrum, has attempted for some time to tear it down, urging local officials to clear the encampment.
When Rosalina Hernández and her husband moved into their studio apartment on Los Angeles Street in South Central LA 15 years ago, the place was just for the two of them and the baby they were expecting. Back then, it wasn’t too hard to find what they needed: an apartment they could afford with just a bit more space.
Over Objections of Landlord Lobbyists, Assembly Committee Approves Groundbreaking Legislation to Stop Arbitrary Eviction in California
May 2, 2018
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April 16, 2018
What happens when one’s home is taken away? That’s a question that far too many people have had to ask themselves when faced with eviction, and one that looms in “Evicted,” a new exhibition at Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum.
Two years ago, City Limits wrote about an affordable housing preservation deal under Mayor Bloomberg that tenants and advocates say was disastrous and non-transparent, leading to skyrocketing rents and evictions for many tenants. Those tenants, with the support of Legal Services Corporation A and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, have now filed a class-action federal lawsuit against the owner as well as the federal and city agencies who signed off on the deal.
Though rent increases happen often enough, especially in the Bay Area, it’s illegal amid a state of emergency like the North Bay wildfires. But a real estate agent is accused of raising the monthly rent on a property in Novato amid the devastating blazes. On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed three misdemeanor charges for alleged price gouging against Melissa Echeverria.
April 16, 2018
Four years ago, Chelsea Lutz moved to Los Angeles from Cleveland to pursue a career writing and directing films. "I needed a really cheap apartment," she said. She found one in Koreatown, where she didn't particularly want to live, but it was all she could afford. Today, Lutz, 28, shares a rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment in the Miracle Mile area with her fiance. "My rent's expensive, but it's not crazy expensive," Lutz said. "But eventually I want to get a house and that's worrisome because I want to be close to my job."
In 2016, 3,255 renters in the city of Los Angeles were evicted from their homes, according to data released last week by the Eviction Lab, a research group at Princeton University. For a city of 4 million, that rate is fairly low. As the Eviction Lab data illustrates, the United States is in the midst of an eviction crisis of tremendous scale. Nationwide, nearly 1 million renters were forced to find new housing in 2016.
Predictably, a number of affluent Bay Area suburbs (and the anti-development neighborhood groups that have come to characterize them in national news reports) are up-in-arms over SB 827, the now (in)famous legislation to fast-track development near transit stations across the state, introduced by State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) in January. But just as the bill’s many opponents can’t be stereotyped, the cities embracing its core tenets are often surprising.
Family photos, Bible verse decals and wedding mementos adorn Jimmy Mejia and Patty Garrido's living room walls in South Los Angeles. Despite their efforts, the decorations can't mask the unpatched holes in the ceiling and the roaches that crawl around their kitchen. In one corner, there's a hole where the drywall caved in after a recent storm. "The heater doesn't work, so in the winter it's really hard; it gets really cold here," Mejia said.