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.
As the price of housing in California spirals out of reach, more than half of Los Angeles County residents fear being priced out of living in the region, and younger residents are even more apprehensive.
Fifty-five percent of LA County residents said they, a close friend or family member have considered moving from their neighborhood in the last few years due to rising housing costs, according to the 2018 Quality of Life Index.
Affordable Housing, Displacement, and Regional Housing Needs
The elephant in the housing legislation room is S.B. 827, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). This bill, which has sparked furious debate among housing and economic justice advocates since it was introduced in February, will get its first committee hearing Tuesday when it goes before the State Senate’s Transportation and Housing Committee.
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.
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.
For Fernando Nadal, the fight to bring rent control to Sacramento is personal. The retired nurse says he and his wife were evicted from their retirement community by a property manager who, among other things, claimed that a small gathering of acquaintances and journalists to discuss his son’s fatal drug overdose constituted having “a party” inside his rental unit. When Nadal received a 60-day eviction notice last year, he filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which sided with the property manager.
Many American cities face a severe shortage of affordable housing — and not just for the poor, but well up into the upper-middle class. A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies concluded: “The rental market thus appears to be settling into a new normal where nearly half of renter households are cost burdened,” or paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent.
L.A. County is at risk of losing roughly $3 billion worth of affordable housing in the next five years, according to a draft report presented to county officials Thursday.
On top of that, efforts to build new units for homeless and low-income people in the county are also hitting snags.
Why? A combination of gentrification, federal tax reform, and the circuitous way affordable housing is funded in this country are mostly to blame.
HOW AFFORDABLE HOUSING DISAPPEARS
Fidela Villasano’s entire world was upending.
In August, her landlord sold the tiny clapboard bungalow where she had lived for 55 years, and the new owner notified her that he wanted her out in the next few months.
Like so many in Lincoln Heights, this tiny, rawboned 89-year-old woman had lived through a time of gang violence, high crime and police oppression. She never expected to be forced out by real estate values.
But, with just $900 a month from Social Security, where in Lincoln Heights could she afford to live? Where in Los Angeles?
By many measures, the revitalization of neighborhoods across Washington, D.C. has been a windfall for the city. Fueled by higher tax revenues and property values, the city is awash in construction cranes, new libraries, restaurants and retail, and more than 70 miles of bike lanes—all welcomed signs of gentrification in the nation’s capital.
Lost in the city’s waves of new amenities and newer, more affluent inhabitants are the longtime Washingtonians who have been pushed out or who are fighting to stay in the city.