News and Views

February 23, 2017
Assemblymembers Bloom, Bonta & Chiu have introduced AB 1506, a bill to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.  Tenants Together welcomes the growing interest in Sacramento in repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a failed 1995 law that has exacerbated California’s affordable housing crisis.  The Act unfairly ties the hands of cities that are attempting to deal with runaway housing costs at the local level.  Tenant organizations in California have all identified Costa-Hawkins as a major barrier to strong rent control and universal displacement protections.   
  • Rent control
  • Costa Hawkins Act
A Sacramento company has filed a civil complaint challenging Humboldt County’s recently approved mobile home rent control ordinance, Measure V. The complaint filed by Ocean West Investors LLC claims the implementation of Measure V as currently written will result in significant and unlawful financial impacts to its McKinleyville mobile home park Ocean West Senior Village. Measure V was passed by county voters in November 2016.
  • Rent control
  • Humboldt
For at least the next 45 days, the owners of age-restricted mobile home parks in San Juan Capistrano will not be allowed to change the rules so they can rent to people of all ages. The City Council imposed a 45-day moratorium on park conversions Tuesday night to give city staff time to evaluate whether the ban should be made permanent. The council’s 4-0 vote to enact a freeze drew cheers from an audience of mostly senior citizens who live in mobile home parks that are restricted to ages 55 and older.
  • Rent control
  • Orange
For at least the next 45 days, the owners of age-restricted mobile home parks in San Juan Capistrano will not be allowed to change the rules so they can rent to people of all ages. The City Council imposed a 45-day moratorium on park conversions Tuesday night to give city staff time to evaluate whether the ban should be made permanent. The council’s 4-0 vote to enact a freeze drew cheers from an audience of mostly senior citizens who live in mobile home parks that are restricted to ages 55 and older.
  • Rent control
  • Orange
Iris Canada, the 100-year-old woman who was just evicted from her Page Street home, was back in the hospital Tuesday night when a team of movers hired by the landlord showed up and started taking away her possessions. A U-Haul truck park in front of the Page St. building was filled with furniture, including the chair she liked to sit in, when I arrived around 9pm. A crowd of tenant activists was outside and several police officers had put everything on hold.
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
February 19, 2017
A major nationwide owner of apartment buildings has filed suit against Airbnb for enabling tenants to violate their lease conditions. Apartment Investment & Management Company, or AIMCO, is seeking civil restitution for property damage and lost revenue, and seeks a ruling that would prevent Airbnb from continuing to list its properties.
As Ben Carson moves toward his confirmation hearings for secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the question remains how exactly his influence will be felt. Once Carson assumes this role, any choices he makes can have spillover effects that contribute not only to housing stock, health risks, and living conditions for our most vulnerable populations, but also to the very quality of our air. Depending on his decisions, climate change, and air quality conditions could worsen by unlikely sources  —  namely, affordable housing and transit-oriented development.
February 8, 2017
Tenants all over the state are facing massive unprecedented displacement because of landlords and real-estate speculators gambling on our homes, causing rents to rise. However, we are continuing to build momentum with several local wins in the past month.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • Tenant organizing
  • Litigation
  • Housing conditions/habitability
February 1, 2017
In a major victory for tenants, a court on Monday upheld a Santa Monica ordinance that bans discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders.
  • Section 8 Discrimination
  • Los Angeles
In our new world of fake news and alternative facts, a front page New York Times story wrongly blaming tech for San Francisco’s lack of children (“San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone,” January 2) may not seem that disturbing. But the problem with the story is simple: the reporter compared 1970 and 2010 census figures to show a decline in San Francisco’s child age population instead of comparing 2010 to 2000. Why use a nearly 50 year old census figure instead of more recent data?
  • Affordable housing
  • San Francisco
Gentrification is the hottest of hot-button urban issues. Many activists and critics see it as essentially a process by which more affluent and educated white newcomers displace poorer, working-class black residents. But those who have studied the subject closely, like Columbia University urban planner Lance Freeman, believe that the issue of displacement is more myth than reality. In fact, Freeman’s detailed empirical research has found that the probability of a family being displaced by gentrification in New York City was a mere 1.3 percent.
  • Rent increases
  • Eviction
The three-story, 30-unit apartment building at 1620 Fruitvale Avenue was the subject of no less than twenty different housing habitability complaints since 2008, according to city records. Problems included raw sewage pooling under the building and no smoke alarms in over-crowded apartments. Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker sued the building's landlords last August. Today her office secured an injunction requiring the landlords, Jad and Suad Jaber, to fix every code violation within 40 days, or face contempt of court charges and other sanctions.
  • Housing conditions/habitability
  • Alameda
Juan Carlos Ramirez has lived in his Mission District home for 37- years. Although he and his wife Rebecca Suval are parents to a fragile infant of 2 pounds an 10 ounces born at just 28 weeks, they have also been under owner move-in assault since April 2016. The eviction has truly taken its toll on their mental and physical well-being.
  • Eviction
  • San Francisco
New Jersey needs more affordable housing. And the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that towns and cities don’t just need to build housing for those in need today — they owe a debt reaching back 16 years. Thanks to the decision, municipalities will need to build, rehab or convert upwards of 200,000 units for low- and moderate-income residents, NJ.com reports.
  • Beyond California
  • Affordable housing
TREASURY SECRETARY NOMINEE Steve Mnuchin kicked off his confirmation hearing Thursday with a defiant opening statement, mostly defending his record as CEO of OneWest Bank. He cast himself as a tireless savior for homeowners after scooping up failed lender IndyMac. “It has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said. “I ran a loan modification machine.” But in stark contrast to his fuzzy statistics about attempted loan modifications, the victims of OneWest’s foreclosure practices have been real and ubiquitous.
The Trump administration's plan to cut corporate taxes might be good for multinational businesses but it already is wreaking havoc on affordable housing developers who raise money for their projects through the sale of tax credits that companies use to reduce how much they owe Uncle Sam. The upshot is that New York City affordable housing projects are facing multimillion-dollar financing shortfalls.
  • Beyond California
Ben Carson basically got a warm congressional hug on Thursday, as the group of U.S. senators charged with vetting and approving President-elect Donald Trump’s selection for HUD Secretary took less than three hours to question the nominee. If critics of the appointment — who say Carson’s professionally unqualified to oversee a federal agency that ensures millions of poor Americans have housing — were hoping for a grilling, they were surely disappointed. The man in the not-so-hot seat himself said, when it was ending, that it had been “kind of fun.”
Last year’s US rental market proved to be full of surprises as some hot markets underperformed, while others saw record demand for housing. But perhaps the most surprising trend uncovered by a new report from online search portal RentCafe was that in six major US cities, renters paid the equivalent of nearly 13 months worth of rent last year.
  • Rent increases
South Pasadena City Councilmember Diana Mahmud said there are multiple sides to the issue, sticking with Khubesrian argument of complexity. According to Mahmud, increased property taxes for landlords as a result of proposition 13, the fact that the apartment complex has been under market rates for a long time and years of ill maintenance have forced apartment manager Jerry Wise to impose higher rents.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • Los Angeles
The City Council favored so many ideas for dealing with the displacement of Menlo Park residents on Tuesday that the city manager interrupted in an attempt to rein in the discussion. “We thought you would pick and choose a couple of them,” said City Manager Alex McIntyre, after a list of 10 possible actions grew to 15. “This is going to take a very long time to do.” He pointed out that the city only has two staff members to deal with housing issues and they are also tasked with economic development.

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