News and Views

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
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
Rent control, until now the domain of Chicago’s far political left, could be going mainstream with two major Democratic candidates for governor endorsing the concept. State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and Chicago businessman J.B. Pritzker each say they would support legislation to lift a statewide ban preventing local governments from limiting how much rent landlords can charge. Lifting the ban, which was enacted by the Legislature in 1997, would allow home rule units such as the city of Chicago to enact ordinances controlling rent increases.
  • Rent control
  • Beyond California
According to Mike Rosenberg, the Seattle Times business reporter, rents in King and Snohomish counties are finally falling "significantly" for the first time in a decade. By significant, he means a 2.9 percent drop "as compared to the prior quarter." Rosenberg suggests that the market is removing some power from landlords and transferring it to renters because the number of empty apartments is growing. All of this sounds like supply and demand have not been de-linked and deformed by unknown forces.
  • Beyond California
  • Affordable housing
Beginning just after midnight Tuesday, as many as 50,000 people who cannot afford to pay the going rate for a rental home or apartment in Sacramento County will start rolling the dice in a lottery for subsidized housing. The odds are long: Only 7,000 spots on the housing authority’s waiting list are available. And those who manage to land a spot on the list likely will have to wait more than a year before suitable housing becomes available.
  • Affordable housing
  • Sacramento
Moments before an Assembly committee killed a bill that would’ve made it easier to expand rent control in California, Assemblyman David Chiu made a serious prediction. “Regardless of the outcome,” the San Francisco Democrat warned on Thursday, “this will not be the end of the conversation. It’s just the beginning.” And with that, Assembly Bill 1506, of which Chiu was a co-sponsor, died on a 3-2 vote.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
Hundreds of tenants and landlords came to the Capitol Thursday to voice their stance on a bill that would have expanded rent control in California. The proposal, which would have repealed a law called Costa-Hawkins, which prohibits rent control on properties that were built after 1995, failed to pass a vote by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. Tenants' rights advocates say repealing Costa-Hawkins would help protect tenants from rapidly rising rents.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
Hundreds of San Francisco and Bay Area residents trekked to Sacramento Thursday morning, waiting in lines that stretched out of the State Capitol building, to tell the California State Assembly whether they oppose or support AB 1506, a bill that would give cities the opportunity to create new rent-controlled housing. The bill ultimately failed to pass the Housing and Community Development Committee, falling one vote short of the necessary threshold to move forward. However, backers of the bill, which would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, promised to revive it.
  • Costa Hawkins Act
Last week tenant activists breathed new life into AB 1506, the state bill to repeal Costa Hawkins. Costa Hawkins creates landlord loopholes to undermine local rent control. AB 1506 was tabled this year as a two-year bill (often a death knell in the Capitol). BUT we brought it back through a series of actions on Assemblymember Chiu (the chair of the Housing Committee), Assemblymember Bloom (the lead author of the bill), and leadership Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (over 500 letters sent by you!).
  • Costa Hawkins Act
Marin landlords will now be required to enter into mediation with their tenants if they increase rents more than 5 percent within a 12-month period. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an ordinance imposing the new requirement. The mediation requirement also will be triggered if a landlord reduces services to a tenant, if that service reduction is equivalent to more than a 5 percent rent hike. Landlords will be required to notify their tenants of the new ordinance by Feb. 12.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
  • Marin
Tenant rights advocates are pushing back against a bill aimed at standardizing housing regulations across Wisconsin municipalities. Senate Bill 639 addresses the relationship between property owners and municipal government including landlords' repair costs, credit background checks and building inspections. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Capitol in room 411 South.
  • Beyond California
  • Housing conditions/habitability
One by one, Frances Moore has watched friends and neighbors move into cars, tents and encampments. Many in crisis often turn to the 62-year-old Oakland woman, who provides free meals to the homeless, but she has found it increasingly difficult to hear their stories of displacement. That’s because she knows she could soon be next.
  • Eviction
  • Alameda
We’ve all heard about rising rents in Boston. According to Zillow, the average two-bedroom apartment in the city goes for $2,300. Imagine someone helped you to rent an apartment, but they said you can only rent a place that costs what an apartment did in 2005. “With no rent control, it is extremely hard,” said 35-year-old Ashesha Rockette.
  • Beyond California
  • Affordable housing
Every Tuesday, Frances Moore collects a loaf of bread from Sweet Adeline Bakeshop for her food giveaway at Driver Plaza in North Oakland. Last week, though, the longtime community organizer also delivered a letter imploring her neighbor and landlord, a bakeshop employee, not to evict her from her nearby home of more than eight years.
  • Eviction
  • Alameda

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