News and Views

A group of activists seeking a rent-control ordinance and other tenant-protection measures gathered in Ocean Beach on Saturday (June 4), circulating a petition they hope will convince the city council to open a dialogue concerning their grievances.
  • Rent increases
  • Rent control
  • San Diego
San Francisco supervisors are set to consider legislation extending rent control protections to residents receiving federal housing subsidies for people with HIV/AIDS, following its approval in committee today. The legislation was introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener after he learned that people receiving subsidies under the federal Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS do not receive the same rent control protections as others. Wiener said Monday: “This will close a pretty glaring hole in our city’s rent control ordinance.”
  • San Francisco
Landlords will not be able to raise the rent on units that don’t meet basic maintenance standards under legislation passed unanimously Monday by the Seattle City Council. Tenant-rights advocates cheered the bill’s approval and said it helped balance the power between renters and landlords at a time of skyrocketing housing costs and record homelessness in the city. “Unfortunately, many people are living in substandard and unsafe housing,” said Roi-Martin Brown, a member of Washington Community Action Network (CAN), which advocated for the rule change.
June 3, 2016
This year for our annual event we're celebrating our collective work to make new rent control a reality in communities facing rising rents and displacement. This is a true coalition effort so we have a lot of awards to give out this year!
  • Rent control
June 3, 2016
Last Friday the Senate Appropriations Committee declined to grant SB 1053 (Leno), the bill to stop Section 8 discrimination, a $350,000 appropriation. That means that the bill will not move forward for a vote in the Senate like we expected. Appropriations decided to attach a price tag to the bill to fund enforcement even though the bill did not even have a mandate for funding. This was a political decision to make it easier to kill the bill and avoid legislators having to go on record in support or opposition. In other words, cowardice. 
  • Section 8 Discrimination
Robert Tillman owns a coin-operated laundromat in San Francisco’s Mission District, a neighborhood at the epicenter of California’s housing crisis. Over the last 2½ years, he’s spent nearly $500,000 on plans to tear down the business to build apartments. But although the city has zoned the property for apartments, Tillman hasn’t gotten very far.
It’s been 30 years since R&B star Gwen Guthrie released her smash hit “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On but the Rent”—and it seems the song is more relevant than ever. It’s impossible for workers earning $15 an hour or less to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in any metropolitan area, county, or state in the nation, according to a study of the gap between wages and the price of housing by the nonprofit National Low Income Housing Coalition.
This is an apartment listing San Francisco residents can only dream about: $150 for a brand new, three-room apartment with a “tremendous fireplace.” Yes, it’s real — or it was in 1961. Today, a one-bedroom at the same address rents for $2,800 a month.
  • San Francisco
Rent control advocates announced Wednesday they have enough signatures to qualify their rent control and just cause for eviction ordinance for the November ballot. The coalition behind the proposed ballot measure, called Fair and Affordable Richmond, said it would submit more than 5,000 signatures for verification at the Richmond City Clerk on Thursday. It is hosting a news conference at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Richmond City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza.
  • Contra Costa
When it comes to producing housing for people who don’t happen to be rich, solutions are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. This burden has fallen mostly on the federal government. However, cities have lately been finding ways to get the private home-building sector involved—namely through inclusionary zoning (IZ) policies. Such policies require developers to set aside a certain percentage of units in their buildings for sale or rent at below-market rates.
“A worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 2.8 full time jobs, or approximately 112 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, in order to afford a two bedroom apartment at HUD’s Fair Market Rent (FMR).”—Out of Reach 2016.
According to a report from KSL-TV, tenants at City Park Apartments, in Salt Lake City, Utah, discovered a “Facebook addendum” taped to their doors on Thursday night demanding that they “Like” the apartment complex on Facebook within five days or be found in breach of the rental agreement. “I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that,” one tenant, Jason Ring, said. “It’s outrageous as far as I’m concerned.”
It's been nearly two months since the Oakland declared a 90-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions. But so far, the city's leaders have yet to revise Oakland's rental-housing laws. A tenants' coalition, which includes influential labor unions and community organizations, has been pressuring the council and mayor since April to place a rent control and eviction protection reform measure on the November ballot. And now it's getting political:
  • Alameda
In his May 29 NY Times editorial, The End of Black Harlem, Michael Henry Adams portrays the historic African-American community as moving inevitably toward gentrification. He cites the familiar signposts—a Whole Foods, “stroller pushing young families,” and “new landscaping and yoga studios”—as well as more nefarious indicia such as white resentment over blacks living in “non-eviction coop conversions” at a fraction of the current market price.
A coalition of apartment owners has sued the Rent Control Board alleging the board’s prohibition on charging tenants for water use is a violation of state vacancy decontrol laws. Representatives from the Rent Control Board said they had received the suit but had not had time to analyze or respond to the allegations. In Santa Monica, the Rent Control Board sets the annual rent increase for occupied rent-controlled apartments. However, when an apartment is vacated, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act allows the property owner to set the unit to market rate.
  • Los Angeles
Community groups having difficulty collecting enough signatures to place a renter protection initiative on the November ballot in Oakland brought the renter protection initiative before the Community and Economic Development committee during the afternoon of May 24. Around 60 speakers were present at the meeting including activists, tenants and landlords, with most speakers supporting the renter protection initiative.
  • Alameda
Each and every day will count in the race against time for the Mountain View Tenants Coalition to gather signatures for a ballot measure to cap the city's rent increases. But exactly how much time remains to collect these signatures remains up in the air due to a brewing disagreement between lawyers from the tenants' group and the city over how election rules should be interpreted.
  • Santa Clara
California lawmakers have adopted a controversial plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the state's affordable housing crisis. The legislation that passed the Assembly Friday on a 46-7 vote would fast-track building permits and waive some environmental reviews for high-density projects that include affordable housing. Brown's proposal seeks to bypass local politics and restrictions that have consistently blocked projects, contributing to the worst housing shortage in the nation.
According to a new report by UC Berkeley researchers, the best way to prevent gentrification and displacement is to build affordable housing in cities and neighborhoods where rents and home prices are rising fastest. The Berkeley report is a rebuttal to an earlier, widely circulated report by the state Legislative Analyst Office that claimed the best way to prevent displacement of low-income households is to simply build more market rate housing as fast as possible.
Rents are rising faster than wages. With rents climbing ever higher, it’s getting harder and harder for Americans to afford comfortable living space — like a typical two-bedroom apartment. This year the average American needs to earn $20.30 an hour — the equivalent of $40,600 a year, based on a typical 40-hour work week — to comfortably rent a two bedroom apartment, according to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s up that’s up nearly 5% from 2015, when it was $19.35 an hour.

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