News and Views
Marlina Martarano has been a renter in Santa Rosa for 42 years, and in that time she’s lived in her share of dumps. One place had a mold infestation that made it into her bed and couch. Another had sewage that backed up into her bathroom. But the 64-year-old retiree from a variety of odd jobs put up with the substandard conditions because she didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. She worried that if she asked the landlord to make repairs, she’d be viewed as a problem tenant and ousted.
A new bill in the state Legislature would make sure that landlords cannot use their tenant's immigration status against them. AB 291, which has already passed in the state Assembly, would ban landlords from reporting their tenant's immigration status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Moreover, under the legislation, a landlord could not threaten to disclose a tenant's immigration status to evict them from the property either.
Alameda County’s homeless population grew by 39 percent over the past two years, according to biennial data released Thursday. The estimated number of people on streets and in shelters in 2015 was 4,040, and now it’s up to 5,629. Part of the increase is because Alameda County changed the way it conducts the count, which led to more accurate numbers. But officials are mainly pointing fingers at high rents and the lack of affordable housing. It’s a problem that needs short- and long-term solutions, they say.
Tenants in a Bronx low-income building that has received almost $3.2 million in 421-a tax breaks are suing their landlord, accusing it of charging more than $80,000 in illegal rent increases.
May 26, 2017
There is a spike in the price of rental properties in Tracy that is making it difficult to live here unless your job is in the Bay Area. Late last year the city commissioned a survey of Tracy residents and when the results were reveled in March, the cost to live in town was a big concern for the roughly 1,500 people who responded. Only 40 percent of people felt good about the cost of living in Tracy and only 34 percent expressed a positive view of the amount of affordable quality housing in town.
Owner move-in evictions are increasing in Berkeley for renters of single family houses and duplexes, largely a result of skyrocketing rents and home prices both in the city and throughout the Bay Area.
A bill that would end a tax subsidy for vacation homes and use the new funding to pay for affordable housing could have implications on pending projects in Merced and Stanislaus counties, advocates said on Thursday. Authored by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Assembly Bill 71 goes before the state Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday, according to records.
President Donald Trump's administration will seek to slash spending on affordable housing and community development programs, a plan that housing advocates condemned as "immoral" and a blow to voters who sent him to the White House.
Eviction Action Against Brooklyn Tenant Activist Exposes Housing Vulnerability Left Unaddressed by Federal Prosecutors
May 19, 2017
Mr. Ireland, Ms. Stuart's attorney, said he believed, in his experience with housing court, that landlords appeared to target tenant activists for retaliation. "It's common," Mr. Ireland said, adding that, "What is uncommon is tenant organising," raising the spectre that retaliation by a landlord against a key tenant activist could hinder the movement to protect tenants' rights.
May 19, 2017
Renters are starting to look for cheaper housing options outside downtown cores, prompting rent payments to rise faster in the suburbs than in urban areas, according to a new Zillow® report out Friday. For the first time in four years, suburban rents are rising faster than urban rents.
"They are already making a huge profit. They bought these homes for pennies. They have already taken the money out of East Palo Alto. The rent is already $2,800. I'm a homeowner. That's more than my mortgage," he said. The protesters said they have no grudge against mom-and-pop landlords with one or two properties; it's the corporate investors who snatch up large numbers of properties with whom they take umbrage.
City supervisors reached a consensus late Wednesday on inclusionary housing requirements that they say strikes a balance between developers and affordability advocates. The agreement would decrease the percentage of affordable housing that developers must build on site under Proposition C, which passed last June, except for in the two neighborhoods most impacted by the housing crisis until further study.
May 18, 2017
A yearlong battle in San Francisco City Hall ended Wednesday night when two factions on the Board of Supervisors reached a compromise on how much affordable housing to require in new market-rate developments. The agreement between progressive Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim, and moderate Supervisors London Breed, Ahsha Safai and Katy Tang, will require that 18 percent of the rental units be affordable in all projects approved between now and January. That quota will rise to 19 percent at the beginning of next year, and to 20 percent in 2019.
May 17, 2017
The last remaining legal challenge to a controversial Mountain View rent control law ended last week, and the city continued to push forward with the law’s implementation. Mountain View City Attorney Jannie Quinn last week confirmed that a group of plaintiffs ended their challenge to Measure V May 10, on the heels of the California Apartment Association’s (CAA) announcement ending its legal challenge.
The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to explore policies aimed at expanding affordable housing options and protecting renters, calling it part and parcel of the fight against homelessness. Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended the study. "Countless residents in the unincorporated areas of my district have experienced skyrocketing rental rates in their neighborhoods," she said. "We need more tools to secure housing stability for the most vulnerable county residents."
Renters in Alameda secured a victory early Wednesday morning when the City Council voted to protect them from unjustified evictions. The move came after the council heard from renters who said they fear that they could be put out of their homes at any time amid the Bay Area’s hot real estate market, and from property owners who said they were being treated unfairly and that their rental business could be undermined.
California’s housing crisis is a hot topic for both residents and lawmakers — and for good reason, too. Earlier this year, the California Department of Housing and Community Development published a report that uncovered a pretty bleak future for the state’s housing. According to the report, about 1.8 million new homes need to be built between 2015 and 2025 to meet the state’s projected population growth.
May 16, 2017
Earlier this year, three California Assemblymembers — Richard Bloom, David Chiu & Rob Bonta — took Sacramento by surprise, introducing AB 1506 to repeal the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Recent grassroots organizing by tenant groups laid the groundwork for this important legislation. Since 2015, numerous cities have been organizing for rent control, and in that time tenants in Richmond, San Jose, Union City, and Mountain View have already won new protections.
May 16, 2017
A new report by state housing advocates quantifies the woes affecting Sonoma County’s rental market, including how far rents have outpaced incomes. Sonoma County’s median renter saw wages decline 6 percent from 2000 to 2015, when adjusted for inflation, according to the California Housing Partnership. In the same period, the county’s median rent increased 16 percent. The gap, derived from U.S. Census data, resulted in a net decline in overall purchasing power of $5,580 for the median renter, whose annual income was $49,921.
On a drizzly day in early February, state representative Will Guzzardi stood in front of a group of housing activists and community organizers in Bronzeville to announce his new bill, which is just seven words long: "The Rent Control Preemption Act is repealed." The act, he said, was passed in 1997 by state legislators in fear of "the bogeyman of rent control." Days after the announcement, it became clear that the bogeyman is alive and well, as Guzzardi was inundated with a flood of protest e-mails and calls ominously predicting that his bill would spell the end of development and rehab of