News and Views
March 20, 2017
The June referendum vote on Santa Rosa’s rent control ordinance is shaping up to be an expensive — and likely lopsided — brawl. Landlords and groups representing them, mostly from outside Santa Rosa, have donated at least $390,000 to date for a political committee opposing the city’s law. That’s compared to about $68,000 raised by supporters of the city’s rent control law, which seeks to cap rent increases on older apartments at 3 percent annually and protect renters against unfair evictions.
March 19, 2017
As rental rates climb and the vacancy rate bottoms out, the City of Santa Barbara will consider a number of measures for a potential rent-regulation ordinance. On the table at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting will be rent control, just-cause evictions, mandatory leases, safety inspections for multifamily residential buildings and enhanced tenant-landlord mediation resources.
March 19, 2017
California lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this year that try to tackle the state’s housing affordability crisis. Reams of statistics support the depth of the problem: California’s homeownership rate is at its lowest since World War II, a third of renters spend more than half of their income on housing costs and the state has nearly a quarter of the nation’s homeless residents — despite having 12% of the overall U.S. population.
March 18, 2017
Even as officials say affordable housing is a top priority, San Diego County shed more subsidized rental housing over the past two decades than all but two other California counties. That's according to a report released last week by the California Housing Partnership Corporation, which found the county lost 3,588 federal- and state-subsidized housing units between 1995 and 2016 — an average of more than three affordable rentals per week. That left 32,807 affordable housing units countywide, according to the San Francisco-based housing nonprofit.
When visitors want to experience this city’s much celebrated “alternative” culture, they often make their way to Heinrichplatz, a graffiti-covered square in the Kreuzberg neighborhood that for decades has been a hub for independent arts, underground night life and radical politics. But on a recent Saturday afternoon, the usual clusters of selfie-snapping tourists and cafegoers were met by hundreds of demonstrators carrying signs that read, “We’re all staying” or “Say no to crowding out,” and protesting rising rents, forced evictions and rampant real estate speculation.
Amid California’s housing crisis, several state lawmakers want to give cities the ability to dramatically expand rent control, including imposing the kind of strict limits that once existed in Santa Monica and West Hollywood but have been barred since the 1990s. A bill that would do so, introduced last month, marks the most significant move yet in a growing movement to cap skyrocketing rents as California’s economy booms and housing production lags. Protests over the high cost of housing and aggressive landlord tactics have erupted in Los Angeles and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
March 17, 2017
Cuts to affordable housing funding in President Donald Trump's proposed budget would be devastating to California, Democratic state lawmakers said Friday, stressing that the White House's plans increase pressure on them to address the state's housing crisis. Trump's budget blueprint calls for more than $6 billion in cuts to the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, including eliminating Community Development Block Grants and reducing money for public housing.
In his 92 years, Paul Mayer has survived World War II. He’s battled skin cancer and congestive heart failure. But it’s the fight to keep his apartment of 44 years that he fears he’ll lose. He has until April 4 to clear out. “I’d be willing to pay more rent if we could work something out with them,” Mayer said on a recent afternoon, surrounded by 1970s furniture and family photos inside his studio apartment on Magliocco Avenue. “But they didn’t even bother. They just said, ‘Get out.’ And I don’t know where to go.”
March 13, 2017
San Diego is the second worst market for renters in the country. That’s the word from Forbes’ 2017 ranking of 46 metropolitan areas, where only Miami is worse. Analysts factored in San Diego’s monthly apartment rent ($1,748), vacancy rate (3.1 percent), annual rent increase (4.8 percent) and the portion of income spent on rent (30 percent). In fact, six regions in California — San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside-San Bernardino, Oakland and Sacramento — ranked among the 10 worst.
Evictions from live/work spaces in Oakland continue with alarming frequency in the wake of December’s Ghost Ship fire, despite efforts by city leaders to work with landlords to prevent displacement in a city where affordable housing is a rare commodity. “We are facing evictions weekly. The number of spaces out there that are untouched are decreasing,” said Tom Dolan, an architect and author of Oakland’s regulations governing warehouse conversions into legal live/work spaces.
California is home to over 16 million renters, 45% of the population, and the majority of us are low-income people of color. A disproportionate number of women with children and people of color are targeted for eviction and displacement and that number has increased with the foreclosure crisis and today as speculation on land and housing intensifies. We are demanding an end to evictions and rent increases, and the investment in deeply affordable housing.
March 6, 2017
The Department of Justice sued a suburban Seattle landlord for refusing to rent to families with children at three of her apartment buildings, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Debbie Appleby allegedly told a woman seeking an apartment for herself, her husband, and their 1-year-old child that the apartment buildings in Edmonds, Washington were “adult only” and not available for her.
March 4, 2017
Residents from a Concord apartment building on Saturday traveled to Hillsborough demanding that their landlord fix their homes allegedly riddled with mold and cockroaches. Folks claim the landlord has continued to raise rent prices by $300 on a monthly basis but failed to pay any attention to the laundry list of alleged transgressions, which also includes claims of water damage and mildew.
A housing hearing in San Francisco got heated Friday over a plan that would make it much easier for residents to find a rent-controlled place in California. In the Bay Area, almost nothing gets people riled up like housing prices. “This is what the legislature should be working on: building more affordable housing stop government waste,” said retired teacher Marlene Tran. Assembly Democrats on Friday announced a slew of proposed new laws aimed at bringing the Bay Area’s sky-high prices back to earth.
An Assembly bill that would repeal state limits on rent control laws drew protest Friday at a hearing in San Francisco from landlords who said it would put many of them out of business and take housing units off the market. Assembly Bill 1506 would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, which prohibits rent control on units built after 1995, exempts single-family homes and condos and allows landlords to raise rents to market value between tenants.
The Oakland mayor’s office officially knows of 18 large industrial spaces doubling as unpermitted homes, but other estimates say there are dozens more, maybe as many as 60. It’s hard to know since so many of these spaces are trying to hide from the city to avoid evictions. In the three months since the Ghost Ship fire, many spaces around the Bay have gotten inspections or eviction notices. A Richmond space known as Burnt Ramen, and another one just a few blocks from the Ghost Ship in East Oakland have both been closed by their respective cities.
March 2, 2017
If you are among the 11-plus million American households classified as extremely low income, finding a place to live is a tall order, anywhere in the country. No state or large metro has enough units available. But the odds of landing one vary drastically—it’s much higher in Boston, for example, than in Las Vegas.
March 2, 2017
All charts can be viewed at the original site.
February 23, 2017
An artist collective living in a Bernal Heights warehouse had to get creative recently to pass muster with the San Francisco Fire Department. The artists, who are in danger of losing their home in the wake of the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland late last year, cut windows and a second door into the mostly metal warehouse on Peralta Avenue ahead of a meeting with fire officials Tuesday. “We did it ourselves,” said Nathan Cottam, a dancer and choreographer who is one of eight tenants living in the vibrant warehouse called the Sunspot.
Sacramento may be Northern California’s next battleground for rent control. During a town hall meeting at the Memorial Auditorium last week, a number of residents told central city Councilman Steve Hansen that the state capital needs rent stabilization before any more people are displaced by rising prices.