News and Views
It’s becoming harder for urban-dwelling Texans to find an affordable home to buy or decent place to rent as house prices outpace salaries, the income gap between renters and owners continues to widen and the number of high-poverty neighborhoods increases.
Gentrification and a callous disregard for public safety led to the fire that claimed the lives of 17 people.
On Monday, San Diego’s City Council dealt a blow to Mayor Kevin Faulconer after voting 5-4 against bringing a higher hotel tax to a public vote. The move, supported by Faulconer, would have brought in an additional $10 million annually toward reducing the city’s deepening homelessness crisis. The defeat hasn’t shaken all advocates, amid reports that Faulconer’s office didn’t have a concrete spending plan for that total.
One of President Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants took advantage of the Great Recession to build an unprecedented real estate business that makes him tantamount to a modern-day slumlord – buying up homes, bumping up rents and allowing the properties to fall into disrepair. Southern California billionaire Thomas J. Barrack is the mastermind behind the scheme, founding a company five years ago that has taken 31,000 single-family homes off the housing market and calling it “the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”
Santa Rosa, CA—Last night the campaign to repeal Santa Rosa rent control, which was passed by Santa Rosa City Council in 2016, defeated the grassroots ballot initiative “Measure C” to defend rent control. In the same night, the Alameda City Council approved the addition of a just cause for eviction policy, a major win for tenants. Now landlords in Alameda have to cite a fair reason to evict tenants. The win in Alameda highlights the resilience of tenant activists and will inspire other cities in the midst of rent control campaigns.
Michelle Dillon couldn’t move out. The 32-year-old southern Seattle resident first started looking for a new apartment when her landlord raised the rent in 2015. It began with a $50 hike and kept climbing. By December 2016, the cost of her modest dwelling had ballooned from from $1,360 to $1,650 a month. “I was making about $1,200 a month,” says Dillon, who worked for a nonprofit in the city at the time. “After I paid rent and all my bills, I had about $200 left over for groceries.” This wasn’t sustainable.
A landlord group is set to sue the city of Seattle in hopes of reversing a new law that allows renters to pay smaller move-in fees and pay their deposit in installments. The City Council in December voted unanimously to cap move-in fees at apartments and other rentals, hoping to bring relief to tenants already dealing with rising rents.
Joann Nieves spent the first week after her eviction sleeping in her Chevy pickup with her three young sons. “It was kind of uncomfortable,” said Jacob, 11, her oldest. To her youngest, 6-year-old Anthony, “it was scary.” Things have improved since then. Nieves, 36, now sleeps on an air mattress on the living room floor of her boyfriend’s mom’s house in Santa Ana, while her sons share a bed in one of the bedrooms. Each morning, she drives her sons to Anaheim so they can stay in the same school, then stops off on her way home to check out apartments for rent.
As the owner of DeDe’s Rentals, one of the largest property management firms in Sonoma County, Keith Becker has been one of the most consistent voices opposing the city’s effort to impose rent control and just-cause for eviction rules. He has addressed the City Council publicly on numerous occasions over the past 18 months, imploring members not to make what he views as a fundamentally misguided public policy decision.
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.