News and Views
In a sign of just how tight the Long Beach housing market is for low-income renters: the voucher program known as Section 8 recently opened for applications after having been closed for 13 years, and nearly 19,000 people applied. Those who advocate for affordable housing in Long Beach say a combination of gentrification, rising rents and a low vacancy rate has contributed to the housing crunch.
About a year ago, the exodus from Gryphon Stringed Instruments grew pronounced. Unable to rent affordable apartments, longtime employees quit or announced plans to leave the Bay Area. The cost of making music here had become just too high. "The money pressures ate them alive," said Frank Ford, sitting with his partner, Richard Johnston, in the back of the legendary guitar shop they founded in 1969. "We lost almost a third of our staff, in quick succession," Johnston said, adding that the housing pressures are "killing us."
July 31, 2016
Jacqueline Reyes became a victim of the government program designed to help her. For nearly 10 years, Reyes, 48, rented homes with the help of vouchers from the federal Housing and Urban Development Section 8 program. The vouchers help folks like her with very low incomes afford a place in the private housing market – Reyes, an office cleaner, put 30 percent of her wages toward her rent, and the voucher guaranteed HUD would pay the rest. But two things changed: HUD’s rules and Lee County’s housing market.
Rent Control Heads to Council: Burlingame, San Mateo Officials to Vote on Placing Initiatives on Fall Ballot
July 30, 2016
The fate of a ballot initiative to repeal the ordinance preventing rent control in Burlingame and replace it with a variety of tenant protections rests in the hands of city officials, who will vote Monday, Aug. 1, on floating the proposal to voters in the fall election. The Burlingame City Council is set to decide during a special meeting whether residents will vote on a proposal aiming to do away with Measure T, the city’s current rent control prohibition, and instead implement new policies limiting the power of landlords.
A developer has dropped plans to turn a historic Hollywood apartment building into a boutique hotel, after opposition from a city councilman and community activists. Councilman David Ryu announced Monday that the owner of the Villa Carlotta decided to withdraw his application to have the formerly rent-controlled apartment building converted into a 50-unit hotel. "I am grateful for the developer's decision," Ryu said in a statement. "Our goal is to create and preserve great neighborhoods."
Brooklyn Residents Accuse Their Sunset Park Landlord of Trying To Kick Them Out To Cash In on Gentrifiers
July 29, 2016
No mas acoso. That's the message from an 11-year-old girl and her Brooklyn neighbors who accused their Sunset Park landlord of trying to force them out to make room for higher-paying tenants. "The landlord also insults and screams at my mom since she and my dad report to 311 that there is no heat and hot water in the winter," said Samantha Bravo, a tenant at 430 61st St., who demonstrated outside the building with her parents and neighbors.
Speaking in Spanish, Angel Gutierrez told KPIX 5 Heritage Realty is also kicking him out this Sunday, even after he told them he’d paid for repairs when they refused. “My kids [are] sick very often and the answer from them was 60-day notice,” said Delgadillo. He works as a janitor for the San Francisco Unified School District. Delgadillo says his family not only dealt with rats, But also mold, a refrigerator that was broken for six months and electrical issues. Delgadillo and his family must move out by the beginning of August.
A rent strike is brewing among more than 50 tenants who find their rents might double in a Marmion Way apartment building, according to KPCC and EGP news. Residents of Marmion Royal – a 60-unit apartment complex on Marmion Way across the street from the Highland Park Gold Line Station – face a rent hike of $1,000 after the building gets remodeled, KPCC reported. According to EGP, the tenants would also have to find another place to live during construction.
July 22, 2016
Tenants Together formed in 2008 with the mission to "galvanize a statewide movement for renters' rights." At that time, the California Apartment Association threatened renters' with a ballot initiative to make all rent control in CA illegal. The foreclosure crisis hit and unsuspecting tenants were displaced as landlords defaulted on mortgages. Now the ranks of tenants in California has swelled from 13 million to 16 million and counting, and landlords are taking advantage of a market glut with venture capital and international investors to gouge tenants with unfair rent increases.
The first time Tameeka Bennett had to drive two hours in traffic to get to her job in East Palo Alto, she broke down in tears in her car. It was October 2014, and Bennett, 29, had never imagined she would have to move away from the Silicon Valley city where she grew up, which is one of the least affluent communities in the region.
Blackstone Group LP expects to take its Invitation Homes unit public in the first half of next year, capitalizing on a rally in U.S. single-family rental landlords to list the biggest company in the industry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The size and exact timing of an initial public offering haven’t been decided, said the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. A Blackstone spokeswoman declined to comment. Invitation Homes referred questions to the parent company.
Melissa Suniga and her mother had been renting a three-bedroom Phoenix house for less than a year when their landlord, Blackstone Group LP’s Invitation Homes, gave them the chance to buy it. Suniga, a 40-year-old childcare worker, used her security deposit and $2,000 she’d saved from her income-tax refund, along with a county grant and a credit from Invitation Homes that together provided her with $10,600 more for her down payment and closing costs. She expects to complete her purchase of the $150,000 house this week.
Rent Control: Mountain View Among Six Bay Area Cities Where Residents Seek Historically Elusive Statute
July 5, 2016
Working at NASA's Ames Research Center, Marcia Christlieb has reached her "dream" salary. But despite a good income, Christlieb and her husband, Dennis, are unable to afford rent in the city -- and live in an RV. "People ask why we don't just move away, but I've worked my whole life to work for NASA," said Christlieb, an environmental specialist at the Moffett Field complex. "I don't want to give that up yet just because we can't afford rent." The Christliebs aren't alone in their plight.
In an effort to punch a dent in Marin County’s affordable housing crisis, county supervisors will spend $450,000 over the next two years on a pilot program aimed at enticing more landlords into renting to holders of Section 8 housing vouchers. The Marin Housing Authority, which manages the federally funded Section 8 program, is authorized to issue up to 2,162 vouchers; but only 1,954 are currently in use — even though there are 5,026 people on the waiting list to get a voucher.
Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, has become one of the latest battlegrounds in the war between New York City and Airbnb.
July 1, 2016
We want you to know about the Concord Four: tenant-leaders Olga Chan, Feliciano Puerto, Gloria Ayala, and Juan Carlos Mendoza, who have been fighting slumlord Steven Pinza for repairs and fair rents. They are now being evicted for standing up for their rights. They need your support.
Much to the chagrin of housing advocates and evicted residents, the Los Angeles City Council approved on Wednesday a plan to convert a vacant Hollywood apartment building into a 24-key hotel. Property owner David Lesser removed tenants from the building at 1850 North Cherokee Avenue about three years ago under the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants if they plan to remove the units from the rental market entirely.
Rampant housing development in the Belle Haven section of Menlo Park is stirring concerns over displacement and gentrification in one of the last affordable places to live in Silicon Valley. A city-commissioned report states that the number of new housing units in the bayfront neighborhood will nearly double in the next two years -- from 1,466 mostly single-family homes to 2,846. The growth is driven by Belle Haven's proximity to tech sector jobs, including those at Facebook, which plans to nearly double its already large workforce by 2019.
Seeking to stem the rise of homelessness in the nation’s second largest city, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday for a plan to add a property tax bond measure to the November ballot that’s expected to raise about $1.2 billion to build housing. The City Council voted 14-0 to put the bond measure to voters. Councilman Mitch Englander was absent from Wednesday’s vote.
Growing up in New Orleans, where roof-stripping squalls are a matter of course, Tyrone Lockett learned how the force of nature could render anyone a nomad. When Hurricane Katrina tore through frail levees in 2005, he watched the devastation from afar as his family lost everything to the floodwater fury. “Mother Nature comes calling and takes what she will,” says Lockett, who settled in San Jose a year before the Loma Prieta earthquake shattered the cityscape.